Extracellular recordings were made simultaneously in the frontal eye field and superior colliculus in awake, behaving rhesus monkeys. Frontal eye field microstimulation was used to orthodromically activate the superior colliculus both to locate the depth of the strongest frontal eye field input to the superior colliculus and to identify superior colliculus neurons receiving direct frontal eye field input. The activity of orthodromically driven colliculus neurons was characterized during visuomotor tasks. The purpose of this study was to identify the types of superior colliculus neurons that receive excitatory frontal eye field input. We found that microstimulation of the frontal eye field did not activate the superficial layers of the superior colliculus but did activate the deeper layers. This pattern of activation coincided with the prevalence of visual versus saccade-related activity in the superficial and deep layers. A total of 83 orthodromically driven superior colliculus neurons were identified. Of these neurons, 93% (n = 77) exhibited a burst of activity associated with the onset of the saccade, and 25% (n = 21) exhibited prelude/build-up activity prior to the onset of a saccade. In addition, it was common to see some activity synchronized with the onset of a visual target (30%, n = 25). In single neurons, these activity profiles could be observed alone or in combination. Superior colliculus neurons that were exclusively visual, however, were not excited by frontal eye field stimulation. We compared the activity of superior colliculus neurons that received frontal eye field input to descriptions of saccade-related neurons made in earlier reports and found that the distribution of neuron types in the orthodromically driven population was similar to the distribution within the overall population. This suggests that the frontal eye field does not selectively influence a specific class of collicular neurons, but, instead has a direct influence on all preparatory, and saccade-related activity within the deep layers of the superior colliculus.
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