Multisensory integration has been widely studied in neurons of the mammalian superior colliculus (SC). This has led to the description of various determinants of multisensory integration, including those based on stimulus- and neuron-specific factors. The most widely characterized of these illustrate the importance of the spatial and temporal relationships of the paired stimuli as well as their relative effectiveness in eliciting a response in determining the final integrated output. Although these stimulus-specific factors have generally been considered in isolation (i.e., manipulating stimulus location while holding all other factors constant), they have an intrinsic interdependency that has yet to be fully elucidated. For example, changes in stimulus location will likely also impact both the temporal profile of response and the effectiveness of the stimulus. The importance of better describing this interdependency is further reinforced by the fact that SC neurons have large receptive fields, and that responses at different locations within these receptive fields are far from equivalent. To address these issues, the current study was designed to examine the interdependency between the stimulus factors of space and effectiveness in dictating the multisensory responses of SC neurons. The results show that neuronal responsiveness changes dramatically with changes in stimulus location - highlighting a marked heterogeneity in the spatial receptive fields of SC neurons. More importantly, this receptive field heterogeneity played a major role in the integrative product exhibited by stimulus pairings, such that pairings at weakly responsive locations of the receptive fields resulted in the largest multisensory interactions. Together these results provide greater insight into the interrelationship of the factors underlying multisensory integration in SC neurons, and may have important mechanistic implications for multisensory integration and the role it plays in shaping SC-mediated behaviors.
Copyright © 2013 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.