Abstract

Several cognitive models suggest that saccade RTs are controlled flexibly not only by mechanisms that accumulate sensory evidence after the appearance of a sensory stimulus (poststimulus mechanisms) but also by mechanisms that preset the saccade control system before the sensory event (prestimulus mechanisms). Consistent with model predictions, neurons in structures tightly related to saccade initiation, such as the superior colliculus and FEF, have poststimulus and prestimulus activities correlated with RTs. It has been hypothesized that the BG influence the saccade initiation process by controlling both poststimulus and prestimulus activities of superior colliculus and FEF neurons. To examine this hypothesis directly, we delivered electrical microstimulation to the caudate nucleus, the input stage of the oculomotor BG, while monkeys performed a prosaccade (look toward a visual stimulus) and antisaccade (look away from the stimulus) paradigm. Microstimulation applied after stimulus appearance (poststimulus microstimulation) prolonged RTs regardless of saccade directions (contra/ipsi) or task instructions (pro/anti). In contrast, microstimulation applied before stimulus appearance (prestimulus microstimulation) shortened RTs, although the effects were limited to several task conditions. The analysis of RT distributions using the linear approach to threshold with ergodic rate model revealed that poststimulus microstimulation prolonged RTs by reducing the rate of rise to the threshold for saccade initiation, whereas fitting results for prestimulus microstimulation were inconsistent across different task conditions. We conclude that both poststimulus and prestimulus activities of caudate neurons are sufficient to control saccade RTs.

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