Recovery of contralesional saccade choice and reaction time deficits after a unilateral endothelin-1-induced lesion in the macaque caudal prefrontal cortex

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Journal of Neurophysiology





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© 2019 the American Physiological Society. The caudal primate prefrontal cortex (PFC) is involved in target selection and visually guided saccades through both covert attention and overt orienting eye movements. Unilateral damage to the caudal PFC often leads to decreased awareness of a contralesional target alone, referred to as “neglect,” or when it is presented simultaneously with an ipsilesional target, referred to as “extinction.” In the current study, we examined whether deficits in contralesional target selection were due to contralesional oculomotor deficits, such as slower reaction times. We experimentally induced a focal ischemic lesion in the right caudal PFC of 4 male macaque monkeys using the vasoconstrictor endothelin-1 and measured saccade choice and reaction times on double-stimulus free-choice tasks and single-stimulus trials before and after the lesion. We found that 1) endothelin-1-induced lesions in the caudal PFC produced contralesional target selection deficits that varied in severity and duration based on lesion volume and location; 2) contralesional neglect-like deficits were transient and recovered by week 4 postlesion; 3) contralesional extinction-like deficits were longer lasting and recovered by weeks 8 –16 postlesion; 4) contralesional reaction time returned to baseline well before the contralesional choice deficit had recovered; and 5) neither the mean reaction times nor the reaction time distributions could account for the degree of contralesional extinction on the free-choice task throughout recovery. These findings demonstrate that the saccade choice bias observed after a right caudal PFC lesion is not exclusively due to contralesional motor deficits, but instead reflects a combination of impaired motor and attentional processing. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Unilateral damage to the caudal prefrontal cortex in macaque monkeys results in impaired contralesional target selection during the simultaneous presentation of an ipsilesional target. We show that the recovery of contralesional target selection cannot be explained by the recovery of prolonged contralesional saccadic reaction times alone. This indicates that an impairment in contralesional attentional processing contributes to the magnitude of the saccade choice bias in the weeks following a unilateral caudal prefrontal cortex lesion.


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