Spontaneous Saccades and Gaze-Holding Ability in the Pigmented Rat. I. Effects of Inferior Olive Lesion


Professor P. Strata, as above


We have studied the effects of lesion of the inferior olive on the spontaneous eye movements performed both in the light and dark in head restrained pigmented rats. The inferior olive lesion was made at least 1 month before study with 3-acetylpyridine and eye movements were recorded through a phase detection search coil apparatus. Following lesion, the spontaneous saccades performed in the dark present a postsaccadic drift which is made up of two components characterized by their different time courses, the first one being fast and the second one slow. The latter component is due to the leakage of the neural integrator and the former is mainly the consequence of a mismatch between the phasic and the tonic component of the ocular movement. In the light only the first component is present and then the eye maintains a steady position. After the lesion the saccades in the dark present a time constant of the slow component of the postsaccadic drift which is significantly reduced to −600–900 ms from a value of 1600–4000 ms of the intact rats. This means that the integrity of the inferior olive is necessary to keep the time constant of the neural integrator within the physiological range. In the light, the amplitude of the postsaccadic drift depends on two factors. First, there is a mismatch between the phasic and the tonic components of the ocular movement, which are due to the pulse and the step of innervation of the extraocular muscles respectively. Different types of analysis have shown that the gain of the pulse to step transformation is about 0.77 at all saccadic amplitudes and eccentricities. Second, there is an increased leakiness of the neural integrator. Such a contribution increases linearly as a function of the eccentricity with a slope of 0.21. The main sequence of the saccades is not appreciably affected by the olivary lesion. Thus, the consequence of the inferior olive lesion may be interpreted as a general disruption of the integration process which, in physiological conditions, generates a proper and sustained oculomotor signal. More generally, it may be viewed as a loss of coordination between phasic and tonic motor commands.