The mammalian superior colliculus: laminar structure and connections

Prog Brain Res. 2006;151:321-78. doi: 10.1016/S0079-6123(05)51011-2.


The superior colliculus is a laminated midbrain structure that acts as one of the centers organizing gaze movements. This review will concentrate on sensory and motor inputs to the superior colliculus, on its internal circuitry, and on its connections with other brainstem gaze centers, as well as its extensive outputs to those structures with which it is reciprocally connected. This will be done in the context of its laminar arrangement. Specifically, the superficial layers receive direct retinal input, and are primarily visual sensory in nature. They project upon the visual thalamus and pretectum to influence visual perception. These visual layers also project upon the deeper layers, which are both multimodal, and premotor in nature. Thus, the deep layers receive input from both somatosensory and auditory sources, as well as from the basal ganglia and cerebellum. Sensory, association, and motor areas of cerebral cortex provide another major source of collicular input, particularly in more encephalized species. For example, visual sensory cortex terminates superficially, while the eye fields target the deeper layers. The deeper layers are themselves the source of a major projection by way of the predorsal bundle which contributes collicular target information to the brainstem structures containing gaze-related burst neurons, and the spinal cord and medullary reticular formation regions that produce head turning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Brain Stem / anatomy & histology
  • Brain Stem / physiology
  • Cerebellum / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebellum / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Ear, External / physiology
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology
  • Haplorhini
  • Mammals / anatomy & histology*
  • Mammals / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Retina / anatomy & histology
  • Retina / physiology
  • Spinal Cord / anatomy & histology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology
  • Superior Colliculi / anatomy & histology*
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology
  • Superior Colliculi / ultrastructure
  • Thalamus / anatomy & histology
  • Thalamus / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology