When the auditory cortex turns visual

Prog Brain Res. 2001;134:447-58. doi: 10.1016/s0079-6123(01)34029-3.


We studied visually guided behavior and the visual response properties of single auditory cortex (A1) neurons in neonatally operated hamsters with surgically induced, permanent, ectopic retinal projections to auditory thalamic nuclei and to visual thalamic nuclei which normally receive little direct retinal input. The surgically induced retino-thalamo-cortical pathways can mediate visual guided behaviors whose normal substrate, the pathway from the retina to the primary visual cortex via the primary thalamic visual nucleus, is missing. The visually evoked response properties of A1 neurons resemble in many respects those of neurons in V1 of normal hamsters: many A1 neurons have well-defined visual receptive fields and preferences for orientation or direction of movement. In addition, some visually responsive cells in A1 are bimodal--they also respond to auditory stimuli. The visually responsive neurons in A1 probably account for the capacity of the auditory cortex to mediate visual behavior in 'rewired hamsters'.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Humans
  • Visual Pathways / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*