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Journal Article

Experimental test of spatial updating models for monkey eye-head gaze shifts


van Grootel,  TJ
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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van Grootel, T., van der Willigen, R., & van Opstal, A. (2012). Experimental test of spatial updating models for monkey eye-head gaze shifts. PLoS ONE, 7(10), 1-18. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047606.

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How the brain maintains an accurate and stable representation of visual target locations despite the occurrence of saccadic gaze shifts is a classical problem in oculomotor research. Here we test and dissociate the predictions of different conceptual models for head-unrestrained gaze-localization behavior of macaque monkeys. We adopted the double-step paradigm with rapid eye-head gaze shifts to measure localization accuracy in response to flashed visual stimuli in darkness. We presented the second target flash either before (static), or during (dynamic) the first gaze displacement. In the dynamic case the brief visual flash induced a small retinal streak of up to about 20 deg at an unpredictable moment and retinal location during the eye-head gaze shift, which provides serious challenges for the gaze-control system. However, for both stimulus conditions, monkeys localized the flashed targets with accurate gaze shifts, which rules out several models of visuomotor control. First, these findings exclude the possibility that gaze-shift programming relies on retinal inputs only. Instead, they support the notion that accurate eye-head motor feedback updates the gaze-saccade coordinates. Second, in dynamic trials the visuomotor system cannot rely on the coordinates of the planned first eye-head saccade either, which rules out remapping on the basis of a predictive corollary gaze-displacement signal. Finally, because gaze-related head movements were also goal-directed, requiring continuous access to eye-in-head position, we propose that our results best support a dynamic feedback scheme for spatial updating in which visuomotor control incorporates accurate signals about instantaneous eye- and head positions rather than relative eye- and head displacements.