Saccadic oscillations threaten clear vision by causing image motion on the retina. They are either purely horizontal (ocular flutter) or multidimensional (opsoclonus). We propose that ion channel dysfunction in the burst cell membrane is the underlying abnormality. We have tested this hypothesis by simulating a neuromimetic computational model of the burst neurons. This biologically realistic model mimics the physiologic properties and anatomic connections in the brainstem saccade generator. A rebound firing after sustained inhibition, called post-inhibitory rebound (PIR), and reciprocal inhibition between premotor saccadic burst neurons are the key features of this conceptual scheme. PIR and reciprocal inhibition make the circuits that generate the saccadic burst inherently unstable and can lead to oscillations unless stabilized by external inhibition. Our simulations suggest that alterations in membrane properties that lead to an increase in PIR, a reduction in external glycinergic inhibition, or both can cause saccadic oscillations.
Essential tremor (ET) is the most common movement disorder and its pathophysiology is unknown. We hypothesize that increased membrane excitability in motor circuits has a key role in the pathogenesis of ET. Specifically, we propose that neural circuits controlling ballistic movements are inherently unstable due to their underlying reciprocal innervation. Such instability is enhanced by increased neural membrane excitability and the circuit begins to oscillate. These oscillations manifest as tremor.
Postural limb tremor was recorded in 22 ET patients and then the phenotype was simulated with a conductance-based neuromimetic model of ballistic movements. The model neuron was Hodgkin-Huxley type with added hyperpolarization activated cation current (Ih), low threshold calcium current (IT), and GABA and glycine mediated chloride currents. The neurons also featured the neurophysiological property of rebound excitation after release from sustained inhibition (post-inhibitory rebound). The model featured a reciprocally innervated circuit of neurons that project to agonist and antagonist muscle pairs.
Neural excitability was modulated by changing Ih and/or IT. Increasing Ih and/or IT further depolarized the membrane and thus increased excitability. The characteristics of the tremor from all ET patients were simulated when Ih was increased to ~10× the range of physiological values. In contrast, increasing other membrane conductances, while keeping Ih at a physiological value, did not simulate the tremor. Increases in Ih and IT determined the frequency and amplitude of the simulated oscillations.
These simulations support the hypothesis that increased membrane excitability in potentially unstable, reciprocally innervated circuits can produce oscillations that resemble ET. Neural excitability could be increased in a number of ways. In this study membrane excitability was increased by up-regulating Ih and IT. This approach suggests new experimental and clinical ways to understand and treat common tremor disorders.
Intrathalamic oscillations related to sleep and epilepsy depend on interactions between synaptic mechanisms and intrinsic membrane excitability. One intrinsic conductance implicated in the genesis of thalamic oscillations is the H current – a cationic current activated by membrane hyperpolarization. Activation of H current promotes rebound excitation of thalamic relay neurons and can thus enhance recurrent network activity.
We examined the effects of H current modulation on bicuculline-enhanced network oscillations (2-4 Hz) in rat thalamic slices. The adrenergic agonist norepinephrine, a known regulator of H current, caused an alteration of the internal structure of the oscillations – they were enhanced and accelerated as the interval between bursts was shortened. The acceleration was blocked by the β-adrenergic antagonist propranolol. The β agonist isoproterenol mimicked the effect of norepinephrine on oscillation frequency and truncated the responses suggesting that a β-adrenergic upregulation of H current modifies the internal structure (frequency) of thalamic oscillations. Consistent with this, we found that H channel blockade by Cs+ or ZD7288 could decelerate the oscillations and produce more robust (longer lasting) responses. High concentrations of either Cs+ or ZD7288 blocked the oscillations.
These results indicate that a critical amount of H current is necessary for optimal intrathalamic oscillations in the delta frequency range. Up- or downregulation of H current can not only alter the oscillation frequency but also retard or promote the development of thalamic synchronous oscillations. This conclusion has important implications regarding the development of epilepsy in thalamocortical circuits.
H current; ZD7288; adrenergic; pacemaking
Saccadic eye movements rapidly orient the line of sight towards the object of interest. Pre-motor burst neurons (BNs) controlling saccades receive excitation from superior colliculus and cerebellum, but inhibition by omnipause neurons (OPNs) prevents saccades. When the OPNs pause, BNs begin to fire. It has been presumed that part of the BN burst comes from post-inhibitory rebound (PIR). We hypothesized that in the absence of prior inhibition from OPNs there would be no PIR, and thus the increase in initial firing rate of BNs would be reduced. Consequently, saccade acceleration would be reduced. We measured eye movements and showed that sustained eye closure, which inhibits the activity of OPNs and thus hypothetically should weaken PIR, reduced the peak velocity, acceleration, and deceleration of saccades in healthy human subjects. Saccades under closed eyelids also had irregular trajectories; the frequency of the oscillations underlying this irregularity was similar to that of high-frequency ocular flutter (back-to-back saccades) often seen in normal subjects during attempted fixation at straight ahead while eyes are closed. Saccades and quick phases of nystagmus are generated by the same pre-motor neurons, and we found that the quick-phase velocity of nystagmus was also reduced by lid closure. These changes were not due to a mechanical hindrance to the eyes, because lid closure did not affect the peak velocities or accelerations of the eyes in the “slow-phase” response to rapid head movements of comparable speeds to those of saccades. These results indicate a role for OPNs in generating the abrupt onset and high velocities of saccades. We hypothesize that the mechanism involved is PIR in pre-motor burst neurons.
Omnipause neurons; Burst neurons; Oscillations; Ballistic movement; Post-inhibitory rebound
Field stimulation of the jejunum elicited successively an action potential of spike form, a slow excitatory depolarization, a slow inhibitory hyperpolarization, and a postinhibitory depolarization as a rebound excitation. The slow depolarization often triggered the spike. The inhibitory potential showed lower threshold than did the excitatory potential. Both the excitatory potentials were abolished by atropine and tetrodotoxin. Effective membrane resistance measured by the intracellular polarizing method was reduced during the peak of the excitatory potential, but the degree of reduction was smaller than that evoked by iontophoretic application of acetylcholine. Conditioning hyperpolarization of the muscle membrane modified the amplitude of the excitatory potential. The estimated reversal potential level for the excitatory potenialt was about 0 mv. No changes could be observed in the amplitude of the inhibitory potential when hyperpolarization was induced with intracellularly applied current. Low [K]o and [Ca]o blocked the generation of the excitatory potential but the amplitude of the inhibitory potential was enhanced in low [K]o. Low [Ca]o and high [Mg]o had no effect on the inhibitory potential.
Postinhibitory rebound spiking is characteristic of several neuron types and brain regions, where it sustains spontaneous activity and central pattern generation. However, rebound spikes are rarely observed in the principal cells of the hippocampus under physiological conditions. We report that CA1 pyramidal neurons support rebound spikes mediated by hyperpolarization-activated inward current (Ih), and normally masked by A-type potassium channels (KA). In both experiments and computational models, KA blockage or reduction consistently resulted in a somatic action potential upon release from hyperpolarizing injections in the soma or main apical dendrite. Rebound spiking was systematically abolished by the additional blockage or reduction of Ih. Since the density of both KA and Ih increases in these cells with the distance from the soma, such “latent” mechanism may be most effective in the distal dendrites, which are targeted by a variety of GABAergic interneurons. Detailed computer simulations, validated against the experimental data, demonstrate that rebound spiking can result from activation of distal inhibitory synapses. In particular, partial KA reduction confined to one or few branches of the apical tuft may be sufficient to elicit a local spike following a train of synaptic inhibition. Moreover, the spatial extent and amount of KA reduction determines whether the dendritic spike propagates to the soma. These data suggest that the plastic regulation of KA can provide a dynamic switch to unmask postinhibitory spiking in CA1 pyramidal neurons. This newly discovered local modulation of postinhibitory spiking further increases the signal processing power of the CA1 synaptic microcircuitry.
It is generally believed that students learn best through activities that require their direct participation. By using simulations as a tool for learning neuroscience, students are directly engaged in the activity and obtain immediate feedback and reinforcement. This paper describes a series of biophysical models and computer simulations that can be used by educators and students to explore a variety of basic principles in neuroscience. The paper also suggests ‘virtual laboratory’ exercises that students may conduct to further examine biophysical processes underlying neural function. First, the Hodgkin and Huxley (HH) model is presented. The HH model is used to illustrate the action potential, threshold phenomena, and nonlinear dynamical properties of neurons (e.g., oscillations, postinhibitory rebound excitation). Second, the Morris-Lecar (ML) model is presented. The ML model is used to develop a model of a bursting neuron and to illustrate modulation of neuronal activity by intracellular ions. Lastly, principles of synaptic transmission are presented in small neural networks, which illustrate oscillatory behavior, excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic potentials, and temporal summation.
undergraduate; graduate; neurons; synapses; neural networks; modeling; SNNAP; Hodgkin-Huxley
The cerebellar vermis (lobules VI-VII) has been implicated in both postmortem and neuroimaging studies of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This region maintains the consistent accuracy of saccadic eye movements and plays an especially important role in correcting systematic errors in saccade amplitudes such as those induced by adaptation paradigms. Saccade adaptation paradigms have not yet been used to study ASD. Fifty-six individuals with ASD and 53 age-matched healthy controls performed an intrasaccadic target displacement task known to elicit saccadic adaptation reflected in an amplitude reduction. The rate of amplitude reduction and the variability of saccade amplitude across 180 adaptation trials were examined. Individuals with ASD adapted slower than healthy controls, and demonstrated more variability of their saccade amplitudes across trials prior to, during and after adaptation. Thirty percent of individuals with ASD did not significantly adapt, whereas only 6% of healthy controls failed to adapt. Adaptation rate and amplitude variability impairments were related to performance on a traditional neuropsychological test of manual motor control. The profile of impaired adaptation and reduced consistency of saccade accuracy indicates reduced neural plasticity within learning circuits of the oculomotor vermis that impedes the fine-tuning of motor behavior in ASD. These data provide functional evidence of abnormality in the cerebellar vermis that converges with previous reports of cellular and gross anatomic dysmorphology of this brain region in ASD.
Saccade-generating burst neurons (BN) are inhibited by omnipause neurons (OPN), except during saccades. OPN activity pauses before saccade onset and resumes at the saccade end. Microstimulation of OPN stops saccades in mid-flight, which shows that OPN can end saccades. However, OPN pause duration does not correlate well with saccade duration, and saccades are normometric after OPN lesions. We tested whether OPN were responsible for stopping saccades both in late-onset Tay–Sachs, which causes premature saccadic termination, and in individuals with cerebellar hypermetria. We studied gaze shifts between two targets at different distances aligned on one eye, which consist of a disjunctive saccade followed by vergence. High-frequency conjugate oscillations during the vergence movements that followed saccades were present in all subjects studied, indicating OPN silence. Thus, mechanisms other than OPN discharge (e.g., cerebellar caudal fastigial nucleus–promoting inhibitory BN discharge) must contribute to saccade termination.
Tay–Sachs disease; saccades; omnipause neurons; fastigial nucleus; Müller paradigm
Neural circuits controlling fast movements are inherently unsteady as a result of their reciprocal innervation. This instability is enhanced by increased membrane excitability. Recent studies indicate that the loss of external inhibition is an important factor in the pathogenesis of several tremor disorders such as essential tremor, cerebellar kinetic tremor or parkinsonian tremor. Shaikh and colleagues propose a new conceptual scheme to analyze tremor disorders. Oscillations are simulated by changing the intrinsic membrane properties of burst neurons. The authors use a model neuron of Hodgkin-Huxley type with added hyperpolarization activated cation current (Ih), low threshold calcium current (It), and GABA/glycine mediated chloride currents. Post-inhibitory rebound is taken into account. The model includes a reciprocally innervated circuit of neurons projecting to pairs of agonist and antagonist muscles. A set of four burst neurons has been simulated: inhibitory agonist, inhibitory antagonist, excitatory agonist, and excitatory antagonist. The model fits well with the known anatomical organization of neural circuits for limb movements in premotor/motor areas, and, interestingly, this model does not require any structural modification in the anatomical organization or connectivity of the constituent neurons. The authors simulate essential tremor when Ih is increased. Membrane excitability is augmented by up-regulating Ih and It. A high level of congruence with the recordings made in patients exhibiting essential tremor is reached. These simulations support the hypothesis that increased membrane excitability in potentially unsteady circuits generate oscillations mimicking tremor disorders encountered in daily practice. This new approach opens new perspectives for both the understanding and the treatment of neurological tremor. It provides the rationale for decreasing membrane excitability by acting on a normal ion channel in a context of impaired external inhibition.
A depth electrode-brain interface (EBI) is formed once electrodes are implanted into the brain. We investigated the impact of the EBI on the crossing electric currents during both deep brain recording (DBR) and deep brain stimulation (DBS) over the acute, chronic and transitional stages post-implantation, in order to investigate and quantify the effect which changes at the EBI have on both DBR and DBS. We combined two complementary methods: (1) physiological recording of local field potentials via the implanted electrode in patients; and (2) computational simulations of an EBI model. Our depth recordings revealed that the physiological modulation of the EBI in the acute stage via brain pulsation selectively affected the crossing neural signals in a frequency-dependent manner, as the amplitude of the electrode potential was inversely correlated with that of the tremor-related oscillation, but not the beta oscillation. Computational simulations of DBS during the transitional period showed that the shielding effect of partial giant cell growth on the injected current could shape the field in an unpredictable manner. These results quantitatively demonstrated that physiological modulation of the EBI significantly affected the crossing currents in both DBR and DBS. Studying the microenvironment of the EBI may be a key step in investigating the mechanisms of DBR and DBS, as well as brain-computer interactions in general.
Local field potentials; Computational simulation; Finite element model
Many neurons display post-inhibitory rebound (PIR), in which neurons display enhanced excitability following inhibition. PIR can strongly influence the timing of spikes on rebound from an inhibitory input. We studied PIR in the Lateral Pyloric (LP) neuron, part of the stomatogastric ganglion of the crab Cancer borealis. The LP neuron is part of the pyloric network, a central pattern generator that normally oscillates with a period of ~ 1 s. We used the dynamic clamp to create artificial rhythmic synaptic inputs of various periods and duty cycles in the LP neuron. Surprisingly, we found that the strength of PIR increased slowly over multiple cycles of synaptic input. Moreover, this increased excitability persisted for 10–20 s after the rhythmic inhibition was removed. These effects are considerably slower than the rhythmic activity typically observed in LP. Thus this slow postinhibitory rebound allows the neuron to adjust its level of excitability to the average level of inhibition over many cycles, and is another example of an intrinsic “short-term memory” mechanism.
stomatogastric; pylorus; central pattern generator; slow; channel; memory
Cognitive control is required for correct performance on antisaccade tasks, including the ability to inhibit an externally driven ocular motor repsonse (a saccade to a peripheral stimulus) in favor of an internally driven ocular motor goal (a saccade directed away from a peripheral stimulus). Healthy humans occasionally produce errors during antisaccade tasks, but the mechanisms associated with such failures of cognitive control are uncertain. Most research on cognitive control failures focuses on post-stimulus processing, although a growing body of literature highlights a role of intrinsic brain activity in perceptual and cognitive performance. The current investigation used dense array electroencephalography and distributed source analyses to examine brain oscillations across a wide frequency bandwidth in the period prior to antisaccade cue onset. Results highlight four important aspects of ongoing and preparatory brain activations that differentiate error from correct antisaccade trials: (i) ongoing oscillatory beta (20–30Hz) power in anterior cingulate prior to trial initiation (lower for error trials), (ii) instantaneous phase of ongoing alpha-theta (7Hz) in frontal and occipital cortices immediately before trial initiation (opposite between trial types), (iii) gamma power (35–60Hz) in posterior parietal cortex 100 ms prior to cue onset (greater for error trials), and (iv) phase locking of alpha (5–12Hz) in parietal and occipital cortices immediately prior to cue onset (lower for error trials). These findings extend recently reported effects of pre-trial alpha phase on perception to cognitive control processes, and help identify the cortical generators of such phase effects.
antisaccades; alpha; phase; frontal; parietal; EEG
Fixation instability due to saccadic intrusions is a feature of autosomal recessive spinocerebellar ataxias, and includes square wave intrusions (SWI) and macrosaccadic oscillations (MSO). A recent report suggested that the non-competitive antagonist of NMDA receptors, memantine, could decrease MSO and improve fixation in patients with spinocerebellar ataxia with saccadic intrusions (SCASI). We similarly tested two sisters, respectively of 58 and 60 years, with an unrecognized form of recessive, adult-onset cerebellar ataxia, peripheral neuropathy and slow saccades, who showed prominent SWI and also complained with difficulty in reading. We tested horizontal visually guided saccades (10°–18°) and three minutes of steady fixation in each patient and in thirty healthy controls. Both patients showed a significant reduction of peak and mean velocity compared with control subjects. Large SWI interrupting steady fixation were prominent during steady fixation and especially following visually guided saccades. Eye movements were recorded before and during the treatment with memantine, 20 mg/daily for 6 months. The treatment with memantine reduced both the magnitude and frequency of SWI (the former significantly), but did not modified neurological conditions or saccade parameters. Thus, our report suggests that memantine may have some general suppressive effect on saccadic intrusions, including both SWI and MSO, thereby restoring the capacity of reading and visual attention in these and in other recessive forms of ataxia, including Friedreich’s, in which saccadic intrusions are prominent.
Membrane current and tension were measured in voltage-clamped sheep cardiac Purkinje fibers. Elevating the intracellular calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i) results in oscillations of membrane current and tension both at rest and during stimulation. During stimulation, an oscillatory transient inward current and an after contraction follow repolarization. We have examined the effects on the oscillations of changing the extracellular calcium concentration ([Ca2+]o) and of adding various drugs. In agreement with previous work, high concentrations of drugs that affect the sarcoplasmic reticulum, namely caffeine (10-20 mM), tetracaine (1 mM), and ryanodine (10 microM), abolish the oscillations. However, at lower concentrations, these three drugs have different effects on the oscillations. Caffeine (1-2 mM) decreases the oscillation amplitude but increases the frequency. Tetracaine (100-500 microM) has little effect on the magnitude of the oscillations but decreases their frequency. Ryanodine, at all concentrations used (0.1-10 microM), eventually abolishes the oscillations but, in doing so, decreases the magnitude, leaving the frequency unaffected. When [Ca2+]o was changed in order to vary [Ca2+]i, both the frequency and the magnitude of the oscillations always changed in the same direction. This suggests that these three drugs have effects in addition to just changing [Ca2+]i.
During attempted visual fixation, saccades of a range of sizes occur. These “fixational saccades” include microsaccades, which are not apparent in regular clinical tests, and “saccadic intrusions”, predominantly horizontal saccades that interrupt accurate fixation. Square-wave jerks (SWJs), the most common type of saccadic intrusion, consist of an initial saccade away from the target followed, after a short delay, by a “return saccade” that brings the eye back onto target. SWJs are present in most human subjects, but are prominent by their increased frequency and size in certain parkinsonian disorders and in recessive, hereditary spinocerebellar ataxias. Here we asked whether fixational saccades showed distinctive features in various parkinsonian disorders and in recessive ataxia. Although some saccadic properties differed between patient groups, in all conditions larger saccades were more likely to form SWJs, and the intervals between the first and second saccade of SWJs were similar. These findings support the proposal of a common oculomotor mechanism that generates all fixational saccades, including microsaccades and SWJs. The same mechanism also explains how the return saccade in SWJs is triggered by the position error that occurs when the first saccadic component is large, both in the healthy brain and in neurological disease.
In slow neocortical paroxysmal oscillations, the de- and hyperpolarizing envelopes in neocortical neurons are large compared with slow sleep oscillations. Increased local synchrony of membrane potential oscillations during seizure is reflected in larger electroencephalographic oscillations and the appearance of spike- or polyspike-wave complex recruitment at 2- to 3-Hz frequencies. The oscillatory mechanisms underlying this paroxysmal activity were investigated in computational models of cortical networks. The extracellular K+ concentration ([K+]o) was continuously computed based on neuronal K+ currents and K+ pumps as well as glial buffering. An increase of [K+]o triggered a transition from normal awake-like oscillations to 2- to 3-Hz seizure-like activity. In this mode, the cells fired periodic bursts and nearby neurons oscillated highly synchronously; in some cells depolarization led to spike inactivation lasting 50–100 ms. A [K+]o increase, sufficient to produce oscillations could result from excessive firing (e.g., induced by external stimulation) or inability of K+ regulatory system (e.g., when glial buffering was blocked). A combination of currents including high-threshold Ca2+, persistent Na+ and hyperpolarization-activated depolarizing (Ih) currents was sufficient to maintain 2- to 3-Hz activity. In a network model that included lateral K+ diffusion between cells, increase of [K+]o in a small region was generally sufficient to maintain paroxysmal oscillations in the whole network. Slow changes of [K+]o modulated the frequency of bursting and, in some case, led to fast oscillations in the 10- to 15-Hz frequency range, similar to the fast runs observed during seizures in vivo. These results suggest that modifications of the intrinsic currents mediated by increase of [K+]o can explain the range of neocortical paroxysmal oscillations in vivo.
How the brain learns and maintains accurate precision movements is currently unknown. At times throughout life, rapid gaze shifts (saccades) become inaccurate, but the brain makes gradual adjustments so they again stop on target. Previously, we showed that complex spikes (CSs) in Purkinje cells of the oculomotor cerebellum report the direction and amplitude by which saccades are in error. Anatomical studies indicate that this error signal could originate in the superior colliculus (SC). Here we deliver sub-threshold electrical stimulation of the SC after the saccade lands to signal an apparent error. The size of saccades in the same direction as the simulated error gradually increase; those in the opposite direction decrease. The electrically-adapted saccades endure after stimulation is discontinued, exhibit an adaptation field, can undergo changes in direction and depend on error timing. These electrically-induced adaptations were virtually identical to those produced by the visually-induced adaptations that we report here for comparable visual errors in the same monkeys. Therefore, our experiments reveal that an additional role for the SC in the generation of saccades is to provide a vector error signal that drives dysmetric saccades to adapt. Moreover, the characteristics of the electrically-induced adaptation reflect those of error-related CS activity in the oculomotor cerebellum, suggesting that CS activity serves as the learning signal. We speculate that CS activity may serve as the error signal that drives other kinds of motor learning as well.
Saccades; Colliculus; Cerebellum; Climbing Fiber; Adaptation; Motor Learning
This paper discusses modeling and automatic feedback control of (postural and rest) tremor for adaptive-control-methodology-based estimation of deep brain stimulation (DBS) parameters. The simplest linear oscillator-based tremor model, between stimulation amplitude and tremor, is investigated by utilizing input-output knowledge. Further, a nonlinear generalization of the oscillator-based tremor model, useful for derivation of a control strategy involving incorporation of parametric-bound knowledge, is provided. Using the Lyapunov method, a robust adaptive output feedback control law, based on measurement of the tremor signal from the fingers of a patient, is formulated to estimate the stimulation amplitude required to control the tremor. By means of the proposed control strategy, an algorithm is developed for estimation of DBS parameters such as amplitude, frequency and pulse width, which provides a framework for development of an automatic clinical device for control of motor symptoms. The DBS parameter estimation results for the proposed control scheme are verified through numerical simulations.
Motor learning adjusts movement size and direction to keep movements accurate. A useful model of motor learning, saccade adaptation, uses intra-saccade target movement to make saccades seem inaccurate and elicit adaptive changes in saccades. In the most studied saccade adaptation procedure, which we call short-term saccade adaptation (STSA), monkeys decrease or increase the size of their saccades by tracking 1000 – 2000 adapting target movements in a single saccade session. STSA elicits rapid changes of limited size and duration. Larger, more persistent reduction in saccade size results from adapting saccades daily for 19 days, a procedure that we call long-term saccade adaptation (LTSA). LTSA mimics the demands of rehabilitation more closely than does STSA and, unlike STSA, produces changes that could maintain long-term accuracy. Previous work describes LTSA that reduces saccade size in monkeys. Though convenient to study, size-reducing LTSA is not a good model for rehabilitation because few injuries necessitate making movements smaller. Here we characterize size-increasing LTSA and compare it, in the same monkeys, to size-reducing LTSA. We found that size-increasing LTSA can double saccade gain in ~21 days, and is slower than size-decreasing LTSA. In contrast to a single size-decreasing STSA, a single size-increasing STSA does not prevent additional saccade size increase at the normal rate when a monkey continues to track adapting target movements. We conclude that size-increasing LTSA is slower than size-decreasing LTSA but can make larger changes in saccade size. Size-increasing and size-decreasing LTSA use distinct mechanisms with different performance characteristics.
long term saccade adaptation; gain; eye movements; macaque
Saccades move objects of interest into the center of the visual field for high-acuity visual analysis. White, Stritzke, and Gegenfurtner (Current Biology, 18, 124–128, 2008) have shown that saccadic latencies in the context of a structured background are much shorter than those with an unstructured background at equal levels of visibility. This effect has been explained by possible preactivation of the saccadic circuitry whenever a structured background acts as a mask for potential saccade targets. Here, we show that background textures modulate rates of microsaccades during visual fixation. First, after a display change, structured backgrounds induce a stronger decrease of microsaccade rates than do uniform backgrounds. Second, we demonstrate that the occurrence of a microsaccade in a critical time window can delay a subsequent saccadic response. Taken together, our findings suggest that microsaccades contribute to the saccadic facilitation effect, due to a modulation of microsaccade rates by properties of the background.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.3758/s13414-011-0107-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Eye movements; Microsaccade; Saccade latency; Background texture; Saccadic facilitation effect
We study oscillation death (OD) in a well-known coupled-oscillator system that has been used to model cardiovascular phenomena. We derive exact analytic conditions that allow the prediction of OD through the two known bifurcation routes, in the same model, and for different numbers of coupled oscillators. Our exact analytic results enable us to generalize OD as a multiparameter-sensitive phenomenon. It can be induced, not only by changes in couplings, but also by changes in the oscillator frequencies or amplitudes. We observe synchronization transitions as a function of coupling and confirm the robustness of the phenomena in the presence of noise. Numerical and analogue simulations are in good agreement with the theory.
During fixation, the eyes are not still, but often exhibit microsaccadic movements. The function of microsaccades is controversial, largely because the neural mechanisms responsible for their generation are unknown. Here we show that the superior colliculus (SC), a retinotopically organized structure involved in voluntary-saccade target selection, plays a causal role in microsaccade generation. Neurons in the foveal portion of the SC increase their activity before and during microsaccades with sizes of only a few minutes of arc, and exhibit selectivity for the direction and amplitude of these movements. Reversible inactivation of these neurons significantly reduces microsaccade rate without otherwise compromising fixation. These results, coupled with computational modeling of SC activity, demonstrate that microsaccades are controlled by the SC, and explain the link between microsaccades and visual attention.
The pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN), part of the reticular activating system, modulates waking and paradoxical sleep. During waking and paradoxical sleep, EEG responses are characterized by low amplitude, high frequency oscillatory activity in the beta/gamma band range (~20–80 Hz). We reported that gamma band activity may be intrinsically generated by the membrane electroresponsiveness of PPN neurons, and that the neuronal ensemble generates different patterns of gamma activity in response to specific transmitters. This study attempted to identify the voltage-gated calcium and potassium channels involved in the rising and falling phases of gamma oscillations in PPN neurons. We found that all rat (8–14 day) PPN cell types showed gamma oscillations in the presence of TTX and synaptic blockers when membrane potential was depolarized using current ramps. PPN neurons showed gamma oscillations when voltage-clamped at holding potentials above −30 mV, indicating their origin, we speculate, is spatially located beyond voltage clamp control. The average frequency for all PPN cell types was 23 +/− 1 Hz, which increased under carbachol (47 +/− 2 Hz; ANOVA df= 64, t= 12.5, p<0.001). The N-type calcium channel blocker ω-conotoxin-GVIA partially reduced gamma oscillations, while the P/Q-type blocker ω-agatoxin-IVA abolished them. Both ω-CgTX and ω-Aga blocked voltage-dependent calcium currents by 56% and 52%, respectively. The delayed rectifier-like potassium channel blocker α-dendrotoxin also abolished gamma oscillations. In carbachol-induced PPN population responses, ω-agatoxin-IVA reduced higher, and ω-CgTx mostly lower, frequencies. These results suggest that voltage-dependent P/Q-, and to a lesser extent N-, type calcium channels mediate gamma oscillations in PPN.
arousal; calcium channels; N-type; P/Q-type; gamma band; oscillations
Chiari type II malformation is a congenital deformity of the hindbrain. Square wave jerks are horizontal involuntary saccades that interrupt fixation. Cerebellar disorders may be associated with frequent square wave jerks or saccadic oscillations such as ocular flutter. The effects of Chiari type II malformation on visual fixation are unknown. We recorded eye movements using an eye tracker in 21 participants with Chiari type II malformation, aged 8 to 19 years while they fixated a target for 1 minute. Thirty-eight age-matched healthy participants served as controls. Square wave jerks’ parameters were similar in the 2 groups. Saccadic oscillations were not seen. Chiari type II malformation is not associated with pathological square wave jerks or abnormal saccadic oscillations. The congenital nature of this deformity may permit compensation that preserves stable visual fixation. Alternatively, the deformity of Chiari type II malformation may spare parts of the cerebellum that usually cause fixation instability when damaged.
visual fixation; square wave jerks; saccadic intrusions; saccadic oscillations; Chiari type II malformation