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Multisensory integration is a process whereby information converges from different sensory modalities to produce a response that is different from that elicited by the individual modalities presented alone. A neural basis for multisensory integration has been identified within a variety of brain regions, but the most thoroughly examined model has been that of the superior colliculus (SC). Multisensory processing in the SC of anaesthetized animals has been shown to be dependent on the physical parameters of the individual stimuli presented (e.g., intensity, direction, velocity) as well as their spatial relationship. However, it is unknown whether these stimulus features are important, or evident, in the awake behaving animal. To address this question, we evaluated the influence of physical properties of sensory stimuli (visual intensity, direction, and velocity; auditory intensity and location) on sensory activity and multisensory integration of SC neurons in awake, behaving primates. Monkeys were trained to fixate a central visual fixation point while visual and/or auditory stimuli were presented in the periphery. Visual stimuli were always presented within the contralateral receptive field of the neuron whereas auditory stimuli were presented at either ipsi- or contralateral locations. Many of the SC neurons responsive to these sensory stimuli (n = 66/84; 76%) had stronger responses when the visual and auditory stimuli were combined at contralateral locations than when the auditory stimulus was located on the ipsilateral side. This trend was significant across the population of auditory-responsive neurons. In addition, some SC neurons (n = 31) were presented a battery of tests in which the quality of one stimulus of a pair was systematically manipulated. A small proportion of these neurons (n = 8/31; 26%) showed preferential responses to stimuli with specific physical properties, and these preferences were not significantly altered when multisensory stimulus combinations were presented. These data demonstrate that multisensory processing in the awake behaving primate is influenced by the spatial congruency of the stimuli as well as their individual physical properties.


Journal article


Can J Exp Psychol

Publication Date





123 - 132


Animals, Auditory Perception, Echolocation, Fixation, Ocular, Macaca mulatta, Male, Superior Colliculi, Wakefulness