Generation of torsional and vertical eye position signals by the interstitial nucleus of Cajal

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Science  14 Jun 1991:
Vol. 252, Issue 5012, pp. 1551-1553
DOI: 10.1126/science.2047862


The neural integrator, which converts eye velocity signals into position signals, is central to oculomotor theory. Similar integrators are probably necessary in any neural system that changes and maintains muscular tension. The integrator for horizontal eye position is in the pons, but the locations of the vertical and torsional integrators have not been clearly defined. Recording three-dimensional eye movements in alert monkeys during microstimulation and pharmacological inactivation of midbrain sites showed that the interstitial nucleus of Cajal generates both the torsional and vertical eye position signals. Up and down signals are linked with clockwise signals in the right brain and counterclockwise signals in the left brain. This three-dimensional coordinate system achieves orthogonality and bilateral symmetry without redundancy and optimizes energy efficiency for horizontal visual scanning.