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Behaviour of Medial Rectus Motoneurons in the Alert Cat


J. M. Delgado-Garcia, Laboratorio de Neurociencia, Departamento de Fisologia y Biologia Animal, Facultad de Biologia, 41012 Sevilla, Spain


The activity of identified medial rectus motoneurons was recorded in alert cats during spontaneous and vestibular induced eye movements. Medial rectus motoneurons fired a burst of spikes slightly preceding adducting saccades and increased their discharge rate linearly with successive eye positions in the adducting direction. Conduction velocity (21.3–98.2 m/s), eye position sensitivity (ks, 7.1 ± 1.5 spikes/s°deg), and eye velocity sensitivity (rs, 1 ± 0.2 spikes/s°deg/s) during spontaneous eye movements, and time constants calculated from phase lead analysis (T0, 135 ± 36 ms) showed values similar to those described previously for cat abducens motoneurons. The firing rate during repeated fixation of the same eye position was affected significantly by the direction of the preceding saccade and by the animal's level of alertness. Eye velocity sensitivity was not significantly affected by changes in the animal's level of alertness. A weak negative relationship (coefficient of correlation = -0.56) was observed between eye velocity sensitivity (rv) and sinusoidal rotational frequency, with no change in eye position sensitivity (kv) with stimulus frequency. The subsequent changes in the time constant (Tv) calculated as Tv= rv/kv in relation to stimulus frequency suggests that the oculomotor system deviates from a (linear) first-order model.