Fast movements like saccadic eye movements that occur in the absence of sensory feedback are often thought to be under internal feedback control. In this framework, a desired input in the form of desired displacement signal is widely believed to be encoded in a spatial map of the superior colliculus (SC). This is then converted into a dynamic velocity signal that drives the oculomotor neurons. However, recent evidence has shown the presence of a dynamic signal within SC neurons, which correlates with saccade velocity. Hence, we used models based on optimal control theory to test whether saccadic execution could be achieved by a velocity based internal feedback controller. We compared the ability of a trajectory control model based on velocity to that of an endpoint control model based on final displacement to capture saccade behavior of modulation of peak saccade velocity by the hand movement, independent of the saccade amplitude. The trajectory control model tracking the desired velocity in optimal feedback control framework predicted this saccade velocity modulation better than an endpoint control model. These results suggest that the saccadic system has the flexibility to incorporate a velocity plan based internal feedback control that is imposed by task context.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience