The behavioural and neurophysiological modulation of microsaccades in monkeys

  • Donald C. Brien Queen’s University
  • Brian D. Corneil University of Western Ontario
  • Jillian H. Fecteau Queen’s University
  • Andrew H. Bell Queen’s University
  • Douglas P. Munoz Queen’s University
Keywords: covert orienting, cue-target task, omnipause neurons, crossmodal attention, fixational eye movements, oculomotor control


Systematic modulations of microsaccades have been observed in humans during covert orienting. We show here that monkeys are a suitable model for studying the neurophysiology governing these modulations of microsaccades. Using various cue-target saccade tasks, we observed the effects of visual and auditory cues on microsaccades in monkeys. As in human studies, following visual cues there was an early bias in cue-congruent microsaccades followed by a later bias in cue-incongruent microsaccades. Following auditory cues there was a cue-incongruent bias in left cues only. In a separate experiment, we observed that brainstem omnipause neurons, which gate all saccades, also paused during microsaccade generation. Thus, we provide evidence that at least part of the same neurocircuitry governs both large saccades and microsaccades.
How to Cite
Brien, D. C., Corneil, B. D., Fecteau, J. H., Bell, A. H., & Munoz, D. P. (2009). The behavioural and neurophysiological modulation of microsaccades in monkeys. Journal of Eye Movement Research, 3(2).

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