Shinya Yamamoto, Ilya E. Monosov, Masaharu Yasuda, and Okihide Hikosaka
J. Neurosci. 2012;32 11005-11016 Open Access
We understand the world by making saccadic eye movements to various objects. However, it is unclear how a saccade can be aimed at a particular object, because two kinds of visual information, what the object is and where it is, are processed separately in the dorsal and ventral visual cortical pathways. Here, we provide evidence suggesting that a basal ganglia circuit through the tail of the monkey caudate nucleus (CDt) guides such object-directed saccades. First, many CDt neurons responded to visual objects depending on where and what the objects were. Second, electrical stimulation in the CDt induced saccades whose directions matched the preferred directions of neurons at the stimulation site. Third, many CDt neurons increased their activity before saccades directed to the preferred objects and directions of the neurons in a free-viewing condition. Our results suggest that CDt neurons receive both “what” and “where” information and guide saccades to visual objects.