Monday, May 19, 2008

Electrical microstimulation thresholds for behavioral detection and saccades in monkey frontal eye fields.

Murphey DK, Maunsell JH
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 May 13.

The frontal eye field (FEF) is involved in the transformation of visual signals into saccadic eye movements. Although it is often considered an oculomotor structure, several lines of evidence suggest that the FEF also contributes to visual perception and attention. To better understand the range of behaviors to which the FEF can contribute, we tested whether monkeys could detect activation of their FEF by electrical microstimulation with currents below those that cause eye movements. We found that stimulation of FEF neurons could almost always be detected at levels below those needed to generate saccades and that the electrical current needed for detection was highly correlated with that needed to generate a saccade. This relationship between detection and saccade thresholds can be explained if FEF neurons represent preparation to make particular saccades and subjects can be aware of such preparations without acting on them when the representation is not strong.

PMID: 18477698

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