Lesions of the cerebellar nodulus and uvula impair downward pursuit

Mark F. Walker, Jing Tian, Xiaoyan Shan, Rafael J. Tamargo, Howard Ying, David S. Zee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


We studied sinusoidal (SIN) and step-ramp (SR) pursuit in two rhesus monkeys, before and after surgical lesions of the cerebellar nodulus and uvula (Nod/Uv). Eye movements were recorded using the magnetic field scleral search coil method. Pursuit targets were generated by an LCD projector and back-projected onto a tangent screen in an otherwise dark room. After the Nod/Uv lesions, both monkeys showed a reduced eye velocity during downward pursuit (SIN: 42% decrease in M1, 91% decrease in M2; SR: 37% decrease in M1, 85% decrease in M2). For SR, the decrease was seen only for the closed-loop response; initial eye acceleration did not change (P > 0.05). Upward pursuit gains increased for SIN (M1: 9%, M2: 11%); they decreased for SR (M1: 27%, M2: 18%), but to a lesser degree than for downward pursuit. Horizontal pursuit was little changed in M1 but was reduced in one direction in M2, the animal with the larger lesion. The deficit in downward tracking was limited to foveal pursuit; ocular following of random-dot stimuli was retained, even when the target subtended only several degrees. Our findings support a critical role for the Nod/Uv in vertical pursuit, particularly for sustained downward pursuit. Finally, in both monkeys, the lesion increased spontaneous upward ocular drift in the dark (mean prelesion, 1.43°/s; postlesion, 5.92°/s), suggesting a role for the Nod/Uv in holding the eyes still and in the genesis of downbeat nystagmus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1813-1823
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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