1. Neuroscience
Download icon

Removal of inhibition uncovers latent movement potential during preparation

  1. Uday K Jagadisan Is a corresponding author
  2. Neeraj J Gandhi
  1. University of Pittsburgh, United States
Research Article
Cite as: eLife 2017;6:e29648 doi: 10.7554/eLife.29648


The motor system prepares for movements well in advance of their execution. In the gaze control system, the dynamics of preparatory neural activity have been well described by stochastic accumulation-to-threshold models. However, it is unclear whether this activity has features indicative of a hidden movement command. We explicitly tested whether preparatory neural activity in premotor neurons of the primate superior colliculus has “motor potential”. We removed downstream inhibition on the saccadic system using the trigeminal blink reflex, triggering saccades at earlier-than-normal latencies. Accumulating low-frequency activity was predictive of eye movement dynamics tens of milliseconds in advance of the actual saccade, indicating the presence of a latent movement command. We also show that reaching a fixed threshold level is not a necessary condition for movement initiation. The results bring into question extant models of saccade generation and support the possibility of a concurrent representation for movement preparation and generation.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Uday K Jagadisan

    Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon 0000-0003-4253-6041
  2. Neeraj J Gandhi

    Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon 0000-0002-4915-2131


National Eye Institute (EY022854)

  • Neeraj J Gandhi

National Eye Institute (EY024831)

  • Neeraj J Gandhi

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Animal experimentation: This study was performed in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health. All of the animals were handled according to approved institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) protocols of the University of Pittsburgh (Protocol 14114861).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Emilio Salinas, Reviewing Editor, Wake Forest School of Medicine, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: June 15, 2017
  2. Accepted: September 8, 2017
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: September 11, 2017 (version 1)


© 2017, Jagadisan & Gandhi

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


  • 184
    Page views
  • 30
  • 0

Article citation count generated by polling the highest count across the following sources: PubMed Central, Scopus, Crossref.


Download links

A two-part list of links to download the article, or parts of the article, in various formats.

Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)

Download citations (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)

Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)

Further reading

    1. Cell Biology
    Nathan A McDonald et al.
    Research Article Updated