Human cortical networks for new and familiar sequences of saccades

MH Grosbras, U Leonards, E Lobel, JB Poline, D LeBihan, A Berthoz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Visual exploration is organized in sequences of saccadic eye movements that depend on both perceptual and cognitive context. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we studied the neural basis of sequential oculomotor behavior and its dependence on different types of memory by analyzing cerebral activity during performance of newly learned and familiar sequences of eye movements. Compared to a resting condition, both types of sequences activated a common fronto-parietal network, including frontal and supplementary eye fields, and several parietal areas. Within this network, newly learned sequences induced stronger activation than familiar sequences, probably reflecting higher attentional demands. In addition, specific regions were recruited for the performance of new sequences, including pre-supplementary eye fields, the precuneus and the caudate nucleus. This indicates that in addition to attentional modulation, novelty of saccadic sequences requires specific cortical resources, probably related to effortful sequence preparation and coordination as well as to spatial working memory. For familiar sequences, recalled from long-term memory, we observed specific right medial temporo-occipital activation in the vicinity of the boundary between the parahippocampal and lingual gyri, as well as an activation site in the parieto-occipital fissure. We conclude that neuronal resources recruited by the gaze system can change with the familiarity of the scanpath to be executed. This study is important to better understand how the brain implements memorized scanpaths for visual exploration and orienting.
Translated title of the contributionHuman cortical networks for new and familiar sequences of saccades
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)936 - 945
Number of pages10
JournalCerebral Cortex
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2001

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Oxford University Press


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