Michele A. Basso, PhD, is currently the director of Fuster Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. The laboratory runs a research program focusing on basic questions of science that may have direct clinical impact on the treatment of certain diseases, including Parkinson’s disease. One of Dr. Michele A. Basso’s current target research projects investigates the role of two parts of the brain, the basal ganglia and the superior colliculus, in saccadic (quick and simultaneous) eye movement decision-making.

Human beings perceive objects by multiple quick scanning eye motions that, together, construct a mental image of the object. The length of each saccade between two points of interest allows the brain to identify the relative distances between each point of interest on the image. Interestingly, no useful visual information is acquired during the movements of the eyes themselves; information gathering only occurs once the eyes have stopped moving.

Saccadic eye movement choices, like many other action selections, are routed through the basal ganglia and superior colliculus within the brain. Further study of the link between these parts of the brain and saccadic eye movement selection may yield a better understanding of how Parkinson’s disease may cause decreases in patients’ decision-making ability.