Eye position and memory saccade related responses in substantia nigra pars reticulata

Hannah M. Bayer, Ari Handel, Paul W. Glimcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr), a major output nucleus of the basal ganglia, has been implicated anatomically, pharmacologically and physiologically in the generation of saccadic eye movements. However, the unique contribution of the SNr to saccade generation remains elusive. We studied the activity of SNr neurons while rhesus monkeys made saccades from different initial orbital positions, to determine what effects, if any, eye position had on SNr neuronal activity. We found that there was no effect of eye position on SNr neuronal responses. We also examined the responses of SNr neurons during memory-guided saccades to determine whether SNr discharges were affected by whether the target of the upcoming saccade was visible. We found that there was no change in response properties during memory saccade trials as compared to otherwise identical visually guided trials. SNr neurons appear to carry no information about either eye position or whether a movement is guided by a visible or remembered target These results suggest that nigral signals are encoded in the same coordinate frame as those in the SC and FEF, but that unlike neuronal responses in these areas, SNr activity is not influenced by whether the saccade target remains visible until the movement is executed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)428-441
Number of pages14
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • Memory
  • Oculomotor
  • Orbital position
  • Saccade
  • Substantia nigra pars reticulata

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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