The prospect of reward evoked by external stimuli is a central element of goal-oriented behavior. To elucidate behavioral effects of reward expectation on saccade latency, we employed a visually guided saccade task with asymmetrical reward schedule. The monkey had to make an immediate saccade to a peripheral visual target in every trial, but was rewarded for a correct saccade to only one of four possible target positions. Reward availability was predictable on the basis of the spatial position of the target throughout a daily session. Compared with the condition where all positions were rewarded with a smaller amount, the mean saccade latency in the asymmetrical reward schedule was significantly shorter when the saccade was made toward the position associated with reward than when it was directed to no-reward positions. Furthermore, a divergence-point analysis on cumulative latency distributions showed that the expectation of reward facilitated saccades at all latency ranges. In contrast, the expected lack of reward delayed the initiation of saccades with latencies longer than about 200 ms, irrespective of whether the saccade was made to a position orthogonal or opposite to the reward position. For saccades with latencies of more than approximately 240 ms, an additional delay was observed when the saccade was made to a position opposite, as compared to orthogonal, to the reward position. These results suggest that the facilitation by predictive reward is mediated by a preparatory process that is location-specific, whereas the inhibition by the absence of reward takes about 200 ms after the target onset to become effective and is initially location nonspecific but turns location-specific over time.
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