This paper presents a computer simulation of the three-loop model for the temporal aspects of the generation of visually guided saccadic eye movements. The intention is to reproduce complex experimental reaction time distributions by a simple neural network.
The operating elements are artificial but realistic neurones. Four modules are constructed, each consisting of 16 neural elements. Within each module, the elements are connected in an all-to-all manner. The modules are working parallel and serial according to the anatomically and physiologically identified visuomotor pathways including the superior colliculus, the frontal eye fields, and the parietal cortex.
Two transient-sustained input lines drive the network: one represents the visual activity produced by the onset of the saccade target, the other represents a central activity controlling the preparation of saccades, e.g. the end of active fixation.
The model works completely deterministically; its stochastic output is a consequence of the stochastic properties of the input only.
Simulations show how multimodal distributions of saccadic reaction times are produced as a natural consequence of the model structure. The gap effect on saccadic reaction times is correctly produced by the model: depending only on the gap duration (all model parameters unchanged) express, fast-regular, and slow-regular saccades are obtained in different numbers. In agreement with the experiments, bi- or trimodal distributions are produced only for medium gap durations (around 200 ms), while for shorter or longer gaps the express mode disappears and the distributions turn bi- or even unimodal. The effect of varying the strength of the transient-sustained components and the ongoing activity driving the hierarchically highest module are considered to account for the interindividual variability of the latency distributions obtained from different subjects, effects of different instructions to the same subject, and the observation of express makers (subjects who produce exclusively express saccades). How the model can be extended to describe the spatial aspects of the saccade system will be discussed as well as the effects of training and/or rapid adaptation to experimental conditions