• contextual control;
  • neck muscles;
  • oculomotor;
  • sensorimotor transformation


The contextual control of movement requires the transformation of sensory information into appropriate actions, guided by task-appropriate rules. Previous conceptualizations of the sensorimotor transformations underlying anti-saccades (look away from a stimulus) have suggested that stimulus location is first registered and subsequently transformed into its mirror location before being relayed to the motor periphery. Here, by recording neck muscle activity in monkeys performing anti-saccades, we demonstrate that stimulus presentation induces a transient recruitment of the neck muscle synergy used to turn the head in the wrong direction, even though subjects subsequently looked away from the stimulus correctly. Such stimulus-driven aspects of recruitment developed essentially at reflexive latencies (∼60–70 ms after stimulus presentation), and persisted at modest eccentricities regardless of head-restraint. Prior to stimulus presentation, neck muscle activity also reflected whether the animals were preparing for an anti-saccade or a pro-saccade (look toward a stimulus). Neck muscle activity prior to erroneous anti-saccades also resembled that observed prior to pro-saccades. These results emphasize a parallel nature to the sensorimotor transformations underlying the anti-saccade task, suggesting that the top-down and bottom-up processes engaged in this task influence the motor periphery. The bottom-up aspects of neck muscle recruitment also fit within the context of recent results from the limb-movement literature, showing that stimulus-driven activation of muscle synergies may be a generalizing strategy in inertial-laden systems.