Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
We studied the effect of the probability of required tracking on the gain of visuomotor transmission for pursuit initiation in monkeys. We recorded the ocular responses to a brief movement (perturbation) of a target located at an eccentric position from the central fixation spot. As soon as the central fixation spot went off, the animal was required to make a saccade to the target if it remained stationary or to track if it moved. The probability of an upcoming ramp motion of the target (horizontal, 200/sec), requiring pursuit, was varied (target motion probability [TMP] = 0, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, and 1, which was fixed in a block). We found that the magnitude of the response to the perturbation increased gradually as the TMP increased. The initial pursuit response and the perturbation response showed very similar dependence on the TMP, suggesting that the response to the perturbation could be used as an index of the gain of visuomotor transmission for pursuit initiation. We also found that the changes in the ocular responses after the TMP was changed from one probability to another occurred rapidly (decay constant of only a few trials). These results suggest that the gain of visuomotor transmission in preparing for pursuit is rapidly modulated in accordance with the anticipated future need for pursuit.