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J Neurosci. 2007 Feb 21;27(8):1922-32.

Multisensory integration in the ventral intraparietal area of the macaque monkey.

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Institut des Sciences Cognitives, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université de Lyon 1, F-69675 Bron, France.


The goal of this study was to characterize multisensory interaction patterns in cortical ventral intraparietal area (VIP). We recorded single-unit activity in two alert monkeys during the presentation of visual (drifting gratings) and tactile (low-pressure air puffs) stimuli. One stimulus was always positioned inside the receptive field of the neuron. The other stimulus was defined so as to manipulate the spatial and temporal disparity between the two stimuli. More than 70% of VIP cells showed a significant modulation of their response by bimodal stimulations. These cells included both bimodal cells, i.e., cells responsive to both tested modalities, and seemingly unimodal cells, i.e., cells responding to only one of the two tested modalities. This latter observation suggests that postsynaptic latent mechanisms are involved in multisensory integration. In both cell categories, neuronal responses are either enhanced or depressed and reflect nonlinear sub-, super-, or additive mechanisms. The occurrence of these observations is maximum when stimuli are in temporal synchrony and spatially congruent. Interestingly, introducing spatial or temporal disparities between stimuli does not affect the sign or the magnitude of interactions but rather their occurrence. Multisensory stimulation also affects the neuronal response latencies of bimodal stimuli. For a given neuron, these are on average intermediate between the two unimodal response latencies, again suggesting latent postsynaptic mechanisms. In summary, we show that the majority of VIP neurons perform multisensory integration, following general rules (e.g., spatial congruency and temporal synchrony) that are closely similar to those described in other cortical and subcortical regions.

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