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Cortical control of saccades and fixation in man A PET study

T. J. Anderson, I. H. Jenkins, D. J. Brooks, M. B. Hawken, R. S. J. Frackowiak, C. Kennard
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/117.5.1073 1073-1084 First published online: 1 October 1994


To identify cortical regions activated during saccades and visual fixation, regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) was measured in eight healthy subjects using C15O2 PET during the performance of three tasks: (i) central fixation; (ii) reflexive saccades to random targets; (iii) remembered saccades to locations of recent target appearance. Significant rCBF increases were identified using analysis of covariance and the t statistic (P < 0.001). Compared with central fixation there was activation of striate and extra-striate cortex, posterior parietal cortex (PPC) and frontal eye fields (FEF) during both reflexive and remembered saccades. During remembered saccades there was additional activation of supplementary motor area (SMA), insula, cingulate, thalamus, midbrain, cerebellum and right superior temporal gyrus (Brodmann's area 22). Compared with the individual saccadic tasks, central fixation activated extensive regions of ventromedial (areas 10, 11 and 32) and anterolateral (areas 8, 9, 10, 45 and 46) prefrontal cortex, and foveal visual cortex. We conclude that FEF and PPC are associated with the generation of both reflexive and remembered saccades, with SMA additionally involved during remembered saccades. Sustained voluntary fixation is mediated by prefrontal cortex.

  • saccades
  • PET
  • oculomotor control
  • frontal eye field
  • supplementary motor area

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