Primate vision is continuously disrupted by saccadic eye movements, and yet this disruption goes unperceived. One mechanism thought to reduce perception of this self-generated movement is saccadic suppression, a global loss of visual sensitivity just before, during, and after saccadic eye movements. The frontal eye field (FEF) is a candidate source of neural correlates of saccadic suppression previously observed in visual cortex because it contributes to the generation of visually guided saccades and modulates visual cortical responses. However, whether the FEF exhibits a perisaccadic reduction in visual sensitivity that could be transmitted to visual cortex is unknown. To determine whether the FEF exhibits a signature of saccadic suppression, we recorded the visual responses of FEF neurons to brief, full-field, visual probe stimuli presented during fixation and before onset of saccades directed away from the receptive field in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). We measured visual sensitivity during both epochs and found that it declines before saccade onset. Visual sensitivity was significantly reduced in visual but not visuomotor neurons. This reduced sensitivity was also present in visual neurons with no movement-related modulation during visually guided saccades, and thus occurred independently from movement-related activity. Across the population of visual neurons, sensitivity began declining approximately 80 ms before saccade onset. We also observed a similar presaccadic reduction in sensitivity to isoluminant, chromatic stimuli. Our results demonstrate that the signaling of visual information by FEF neurons is reduced during saccade preparation and thus these neurons exhibit a signature of saccadic suppression.
- multielectrode recording
- oculomotor system
- saccadic suppression
- memory-guided saccades
- Copyright © 2015, Journal of Neurophysiology