Precise burst synchrony in the superior colliculus of the awake cat during moving stimulus presentation

J Neurosci. 2001 Jan 15;21(2):615-27. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.21-02-00615.2001.


This study aimed to characterize the synchrony that occurs between cell discharges in the superior colliculus of the awake cat. We trained cats to perform a visual fixation in the presence of a visual moving stimulus and then recorded 686 pairs of neighboring cells in the superior colliculus during task performance. A new method to assess the significance of precise discharge synchronization is described, which permits analysis of nonstationary data. Of 181 pairs with sufficient data for quantitative analysis, 125 showed a cross-correlation histogram (CCH) with features assessed as significant using this approach. CCHs frequently showed an isolated central peak (41 of 125) or a peak flanked by one or two troughs (68 of 125), and in a few cases an oscillatory pattern of approximately 65 Hz (16 of 125). This is in contrast to the oscillation frequency reported for the visual cortex and shows that oscillations in the superior colliculus probably arise from a cortex-independent mechanism. Our method also permits direct quantification of the correlation shift predictors, assessing precise time locking of spikes to the stimulus. Only 1 of 125 cross-correlation shift predictors had a significant central peak, meaning that most of the CCH features were not related to cell discharges time-locked to the stimulus presentation. Further investigation using a burst-jittering method showed that synchrony in the superior colliculus is attributable to precise synchronization of short bursts of spikes. Such synchrony could be related to the network dynamics and the common inhibitory feedback from local interneurons, which would act as temporal selectors of the cells with greatest or fastest response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / physiology
  • Cats
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology*
  • Microelectrodes
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Saccades / physiology
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Wakefulness / physiology*