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J Neurophysiol. 2012 Feb;107(3):785-95. doi: 10.1152/jn.00662.2011. Epub 2011 Oct 26.

Distribution of eye position information in the monkey inferior colliculus.

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Department of Psychology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA.


The inferior colliculus (IC) is thought to have two main subdivisions, a central region that forms an important stop on the ascending auditory pathway and a surrounding shell region that may play a more modulatory role. In this study, we investigated whether eye position affects activity in both the central and shell regions. Accordingly, we mapped the location of eye position-sensitive neurons in six monkeys making spontaneous eye movements by sampling multiunit activity at regularly spaced intervals throughout the IC. We used a functional map based on auditory response patterns to estimate the anatomical location of recordings, in conjunction with structural MRI and histology. We found eye position-sensitive sites throughout the IC, including at 27% of sites in tonotopically organized recording penetrations (putatively the central nucleus). Recordings from surrounding tissue showed a larger proportion of sites indicating an influence of eye position (33-43%). When present, the magnitude of the change in activity due to eye position was often comparable to that seen for sound frequency. Our results indicate that the primary ascending auditory pathway is influenced by the position of the eyes. Because eye position is essential for visual-auditory integration, our findings suggest that computations underlying visual-auditory integration begin early in the ascending auditory pathway.

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