The neural basis of parallel saccade programming was examined in an event-related fMRI study using a variation of the double-step saccade paradigm. Two double-step conditions were used: one enabled the second saccade to be partially programmed in parallel with the first saccade while in a second condition both saccades had to be prepared serially. The intersaccadic interval, observed in the parallel programming (PP) condition, was significantly reduced compared with latency in the serial programming (SP) condition and also to the latency of single saccades in control conditions. The fMRI analysis revealed greater activity (BOLD response) in the frontal and parietal eye fields for the PP condition compared with the SP double-step condition and when compared with the single-saccade control conditions. By contrast, activity in the supplementary eye fields was greater for the double-step condition than the single-step condition but did not distinguish between the PP and SP requirements. The role of the frontal eye fields in PP may be related to the advanced temporal preparation and increased salience of the second saccade goal that may mediate activity in other downstream structures, such as the superior colliculus. The parietal lobes may be involved in the preparation for spatial remapping, which is required in double-step conditions. The supplementary eye fields appear to have a more general role in planning saccade sequences that may be related to error monitoring and the control over the execution of the correct sequence of responses.

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