Primates use two types of voluntary eye movements to track objects of interest: pursuit and saccades. Traditionally, these two eye movements have been viewed as distinct systems that are driven automatically by low-level visual inputs. However, two sets of findings argue for a new perspective on the control of voluntary eye movements. First, recent experiments have shown that pursuit and saccades are not controlled by entirely different neural pathways but are controlled by similar networks of cortical and subcortical regions and, in some cases, by the same neurons. Second, pursuit and saccades are not automatic responses to retinal inputs but are regulated by a process of target selection that involves a basic form of decision making. The selection process itself is guided by a variety of complex processes, including attention, perception, memory, and expectation. Together, these findings indicate that pursuit and saccades share a similar functional architecture. These points of similarity may hold the key for understanding how neural circuits negotiate the links between the many higher order functions that can influence behavior and the singular and coordinated motor actions that follow. NEUROSCIENTIST 11(2):124–137, 2005. DOI
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