Abducens internuclear neurons carry an inappropriate signal for ocular convergence

Academic Article


  • Single-unit recording studies in alert Rhesus monkeys characterized the vergence signal carried by abducens internuclear neurons. These cells were identified by antidromic activation and the collision of spontaneous with antidromic action potentials. The behavior of abducens internuclear neurons during vergence was compared with that of horizontal burst-tonic fibers in the medial longitudinal fasciculus (MLF) and to that of a large sample of unidentified abducens cells (presumably both motoneurons and internuclear neurons). The results indicate that abducens internuclear neurons and lateral rectus motoneurons behave similarly during vergence eye movements: the majority of both groups of cells decrease their firing rate for convergence eye movements; a minority show no change for vergence. This finding is strongly supported by recordings of horizontal burst-tonic fibers in the MLF, the majority of which decrease their activity significantly for convergence eye movements. These findings indicate that a net inappropriate vergence signal is sent to medium rectus motoneurons via the abducens internuclear pathway. Because medial rectus motoneurons increase their activity appropriately during symmetrical convergence, this inappropriate MLF signal must be overcome by a more potent direct vergence input. Overall, both abducens internuclear neurons and lateral rectus motoneurons decrease their activity for convergence less than would be expected based on their conjugate gain. This implies that some degree of co-contraction of the lateral and medial rectus muscles occurs during convergence eye movements. Some horizontal burst-tonic MLF fibers decrease their activity more for convergence than any recorded abducens neuron. These fibers may arise from cells in the nucleus prepositus hypoglossi or vestibular nuclei.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Gamlin PDR; Gnadt JW; Mays LE
  • Start Page

  • 70
  • End Page

  • 81
  • Volume

  • 62
  • Issue

  • 1