Prof. Yuriko Sugiuchi
ISP2012 Lecture Course Abstract:
Neural mechanisms for generating rapid eye movements: Electrophysiological and anatomical study in systems neurophysiology
Neuroscience covers very wide range of fields from basic science to clinical application and from molecular biology to whole animal study. The final goal of neuroscience is to understand the way how the brain works. This lecture will introduce some of classical basic methods (electrophysiological and anatomical methods) for analyzing functions of the mammalian central nervous system, using an example of the oculomotor system for understanding neural mechanisms of motor control that our group has been investigating in higher mammals. These methods are basic techniques that are indispensable for understanding other brain functions in systems neuropnysiology in general.
The fovea is the centeral part of the macula of the retina, and is responsible for our central, sharpest vision. In primates, when something interesting suddenly appears somewhere in the visual field, the line of sight moves very quickly in order to orient the fovea towards the visual target and obtain precise visual information. This kind of eye movement is called saccadic eye movements (saccades). Regarding the neural mechanisms for generating saccades, many lesion and stimulation studies have shown that the superior colliculus plays important roles from long time ago. But the output pathways from the superior colliculus to extraocular muscles remain undetermined. Since the discovery of some neurons in the brainstem that showed characteristic activity patterns related to saccades in the monkey, some hypothetical neural circuits have been postulated to operate mainly from engeneering points of view. This hypothetical diagram for the neural circuits has been widely accepted, but it is lacking in experimental evidences. Our group has been addresssing this issue for the last ten years. In this lecture, I will discuss neural circuits for generating and suppressing saccades revealed by electrophysiological and anatomical methods.
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