Functional linkage between the electrical activity in the vermal cerebellar cortex and saccadic eye movements. Academic Article uri icon


  • The temporal relation between the onset of electrical activity of Purkinje cells and the occurrence of rapid eye movements was studied. Experiments were performed in unanesthetized animals, the recordings being made under direct vision through the use of a chronically implanted teflon sleeve. The following results were obtained. 1. Correlation between the activity of Purkinje cells and eye movements indicates that Purkinje cell firing in vermal lobules VI and VII precedes eye movement by 11-12 msec, peak activity corresponding to the time of onset of eye movement. 2. This eye movement related activity of Purkinje cells occurred regardless of the direction of the eye movements but some cells showed directional biases. Best correlation between eye movement and Purkinje cell activity was found with fast eye movements toward the right regardless of recording side. 3. Electrical activity of Purkinje cells was mainly related to saccades. Slow eye movement modulation, although probably present, was not studied in detail. 4. In those cells where an extensive set of measurements could be made, Purkinje cell firing was found to be inversely proportional to the amplitude of the eye movement, small movements being preceded by highest Purkinje cell activity. The present results suggest that cerebellar vermis responds prior to the generation of eye movement and may probably serve to control eye movements in a ballistic manner.

publication date

  • August 8, 1977