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Hear Res. 2009 Dec;258(1-2):28-36. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2009.04.017. Epub 2009 May 4.

Multisensory anatomical pathways.

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The Functional Electrical Neuroimaging Laboratory, Neuropsychology and Neurorehabilitation Service and Radiology Service, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois and University of Lausanne, rue du Bugnon 46, 1011 Lausanne, Switzerland.


In order to interact with the multisensory world that surrounds us, we must integrate various sources of sensory information (vision, hearing, touch...). A fundamental question is thus how the brain integrates the separate elements of an object defined by several sensory components to form a unified percept. The superior colliculus was the main model for studying multisensory integration. At the cortical level, until recently, multisensory integration appeared to be a characteristic attributed to high-level association regions. First, we describe recently observed direct cortico-cortical connections between different sensory cortical areas in the non-human primate and discuss the potential role of these connections. Then, we show that the projections between different sensory and motor cortical areas and the thalamus enabled us to highlight the existence of thalamic nuclei that, by their connections, may represent an alternative pathway for information transfer between different sensory and/or motor cortical areas. The thalamus is in position to allow a faster transfer and even an integration of information across modalities. Finally, we discuss the role of these non-specific connections regarding behavioral evidence in the monkey and recent electrophysiological evidence in the primary cortical sensory areas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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