Indexed on: 25 Apr '12Published on: 25 Apr '12Published in: The Cerebellum
Efference copies of motor commands are used to update visual space across saccades, ultimately ensuring transsaccadic constancy of space. Thalamic lesions have been shown to impair efference copy-based saccadic updating in an oculomotor context, i.e., when two successive saccades are required. Moreover, the cerebellum has also been discussed as one possible source of saccade-related efference copy signals. The present study aimed to investigate the effects of thalamic and cerebellar lesions on saccadic updating in a perceptual context. To this end, seven patients with focal cerebellar lesions, seven patients with focal thalamic lesions and 11 healthy controls completed a perceptual localisation task in which the position of a target had to be updated across a single horizontal saccade, while saccade-related event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded. Contrary to the expectations, localisation precision in both patient groups did not differ from the respective controls. A positive ERP component with centroparietal distribution occurring from about 300 to 500 ms after saccade onset in the updating condition was observed equally pronounced in controls and thalamic lesion patients. In cerebellar lesion patients, there was evidence of a reduction of this relative positivity in the updating condition, particularly for leftward saccades. This finding suggests that cerebellar damage altered the neural processes underlying saccadic updating in a perceptual context without causing overt behavioural deficits.