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Saccadic eye movements following injection of lidocaine into the superior colliculus


Ablation of the superior colliculus (SC) has generally produced limited deficits in the initiation of saccadic eye movements, usually an increase in the latency of saccades. However, recent studies using muscimol, a GABA agonist, to block afferents to the SC showed deficits in not only latency but in amplitude and velocity of saccades as well. These greater deficits might be dependent upon the testing of saccades shortly after the damage of SC before any compensation for the deficits could develop. The present experiments tested this hypothesis by injecting a local anesthetic into SC. The anesthetic inactivated the cells entirely rather than just deafferenting them, but still allowed testing immediately after the injection. Clear deficits were observed following injection of lidocaine into the SC. The amplitudes of saccades to visual targets were shortened, and the peak velocities of the saccades were reduced even if the reduced amplitude of the saccades was taken into account. Latency of saccades usually increased. The deficits were limited to the area of the visual field that overlapped the movement fields of the cells near the injection site. If the movement fields were in the periphery, saccades to the periphery were shortened following the injection of lidocaine. If the movement fields were near the center of gaze, saccades into the area were shortened, but the monkey was able to make saccades over the visual field related to the affected area to more peripheral targets. These experiments support the view that the SC normally conveys information on the amplitude and velocity of saccadic eye movements, but that gradual compensation can be made over time by other pathways when damage to the structure occurs.

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Correspondence to R. H. Wurtz.

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Hikosaka, O., Wurtz, R.H. Saccadic eye movements following injection of lidocaine into the superior colliculus. Exp Brain Res 61, 531–539 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00237578

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Key words

  • Superior colliculus
  • Saccades
  • Eye movements
  • Behaving monkey
  • Lidocaine injection
  • Reversible lesion