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J Neurosci. 2001 Nov 15;21(22):8886-94.

Sensory and multisensory responses in the newborn monkey superior colliculus.

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1
Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157, USA. mwallace@wfubmc.edu

Abstract

Superior colliculus (SC) neurons have the ability to synthesize information from different sensory modalities, resulting in enhancements (or depressions) of their activity. This physiological capacity is, in turn, closely tied to changes in overt attentive and orientation responses. The present study shows that, in contrast to more altricial species, many deep layer SC neurons in the rhesus monkey are multisensory at birth. Such neurons can respond to stimuli from different sensory modalities, and all convergence patterns seen in the adult are represented. Nevertheless, these neurons cannot yet synthesize their multisensory inputs. Rather, they respond to combinations of cross-modal stimuli much like they respond to their individual modality-specific components. This immature property of multisensory neurons is in contrast to many of the surprisingly sophisticated modality-specific response properties of these neurons and of their modality-specific neighbors. Thus, although deep SC neurons in the newborn have longer latencies and larger receptive fields than their adult counterparts, they are already highly active and are distributed in the typical adult admixture of visual, auditory, somatosensory, and multisensory neurons. Furthermore, the receptive fields of these neurons are already ordered into well organized topographic maps, and the different receptive fields of the same multisensory neurons show a good degree of cross-modal spatial register. These data, coupled with those from cat, suggest that the capacity to synthesize multisensory information does not simply appear in SC neurons at a prescribed maturational stage but rather develops only after substantial experience with cross-modal cues.

PMID:
11698600
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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