Predictive encoding of moving target trajectory by neurons in the parabigeminal nucleus

Rui Ma, He Cui, Sang Hun Lee, Thomas J. Anastasio, Joseph G. Malpeli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intercepting momentarily invisible moving objects requires internally generated estimations of target trajectory. We demonstrate here that the parabigeminal nucleus (PBN) encodes such estimations, combining sensory representations of target location, extrapolated positions of briefly obscured targets, and eye position information. Cui and Malpeli (Cui H, Malpeli JG. J Neurophysiol 89: 3128-3142, 2003) reported that PBN activity for continuously visible tracked targets is determined by retinotopic target position. Here we show that when cats tracked moving, blinking targets the relationship between activity and target position was similar for ON and OFF phases (400 ms for each phase). The dynamic range of activity evoked by virtual targets was 94% of that of real targets for the first 200 ms after target offset and 64% for the next 200 ms. Activity peaked at about the same best target position for both real and virtual targets. PBN encoding of target position takes into account changes in eye position resulting from saccades, even without visual feedback. Since PBN response fields are retinotopically organized, our results suggest that activity foci associated with real and virtual targets at a given target position lie in the same physical location in the PBN, i.e., a retinotopic as well as a rate encoding of virtual-target position. We also confirm that PBN activity is specific to the intended target of a saccade and is predictive of which target will be chosen if two are offered. A Bayesian predictor-corrector model is presented that conceptually explains the differences in the dynamic ranges of PBN neuronal activity evoked during tracking of real and virtual targets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2029-2043
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2013


  • Cat
  • Eye movements
  • Saccades
  • Superior colliculus
  • Visual pursuit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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