Characteristics of Spontaneous Square-Wave Jerks in the Healthy Macaque Monkey during Visual Fixation.

Published in PLoS One, on 2015


Francisco M Costela, Jorge Otero-Millan, Michael B McCamy, Stephen L Macknik, Leandro L Di Stasi, Hector Rieiro, R John Leigh, Xoana G Troncoso, Ali Najafian Jazi & Susana Martinez-Conde


Saccadic intrusions (SIs), predominantly horizontal saccades that interrupt accurate fixation, include square-wave jerks (SWJs; the most common type of SI), which consist of an initial saccade away from the fixation target followed, after a short delay, by a return saccade that brings the eye back onto target. SWJs are present in most human subjects, but are prominent by their increased frequency and size in certain parkinsonian disorders and in recessive, hereditary spinocerebellar ataxias. SWJs have been also documented in monkeys with tectal and cerebellar etiologies, but no studies to date have investigated the occurrence of SWJs in healthy nonhuman primates. Here we set out to determine the characteristics of SWJs in healthy rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) during attempted fixation of a small visual target. Our results indicate that SWJs are common in healthy nonhuman primates. We moreover found primate SWJs to share many characteristics with human SWJs, including the relationship between the size of a saccade and its likelihood to be part of a SWJ. One main discrepancy between monkey and human SWJs was that monkey SWJs tended to be more vertical than horizontal, whereas human SWJs have a strong horizontal preference. Yet, our combined data indicate that primate and human SWJs play a similar role in fixation correction, suggesting that they share a comparable coupling mechanism at the oculomotor generation level. These findings constrain the potential brain areas and mechanisms underlying the generation of fixational saccades in human and nonhuman primates.


Costela, Otero-Millan, McCamy, Macknik, Di Stasi, Rieiro, Leigh, Troncoso, Najafian Jazi & Martinez-Conde (2015) Characteristics of Spontaneous Square-Wave Jerks in the Healthy Macaque Monkey during Visual Fixation.. PLoS One. 2015 Jun 11;10(6):e0126485.

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