Before each saccade, neurons in frontal eye field anticipate the impending eye movement by showing sensitivity to stimuli appearing where the neuron's receptive field will be at the end of the saccade, referred to as the future field (FF) of the neuron. We explored the time course of this anticipatory activity in monkeys by briefly flashing stimuli in the FF at different times before saccades. Different neurons showed substantial variation in FF time course, but two salient observations emerged. First, when we compared the time span of stimulus probes before the saccade to the time span of FF activity, we found a striking temporal compression of FF activity, similar to compression seen for perisaccadic stimuli in human psychophysics. Second, neurons with distinct FF activity also showed suppression at the time of the saccade. The increase in FF activity and the decrease with suppression were temporally independent, making the patterns of activity difficult to separate. We resolved this by constructing a simple model with values for the start, peak, and duration of FF activity and suppression for each neuron. The model revealed the different time courses of FF sensitivity and suppression, suggesting that information about the impending saccade triggering suppression reaches the frontal eye field through a different pathway, or a different mechanism, than that triggering FF activity. Recognition of the variations in the time course of anticipatory FF activity provides critical information on its function and its relation to human visual perception at the time of the saccade.
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