Prior knowledge about our environment influences our actions. How does this knowledge evolve into a final action plan and how does the brain represent this? Here, we investigated this question in the monkey oculomotor system during self-guided search of natural scenes. In the frontal eye field (FEF), we found a subset of neurons, "Early neurons," that contain information about the upcoming saccade long before it is executed, often before the previous saccade had even ended. Crucially, much of this early information did not relate to the actual saccade that would eventually be selected. Rather, it related to prior information about the probabilities of possible upcoming saccades based on the presaccade fixation location. Nearer to the time of saccade onset, a greater proportion of these neurons' activities related to the saccade selection, although prior information continued to influence activity throughout. A separate subset of FEF neurons, "Late neurons," only represented the final action plan near saccade onset and not prior information. Our results demonstrate how, across the population of FEF neurons, prior information evolves into definitive saccade plans.
- frontal eye field
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience