Interhemispheric transfer following callosotomy in humans: role of the superior colliculus

Neuropsychologia. 2007 Jun 18;45(11):2417-27. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2007.04.002. Epub 2007 Apr 8.


It is now common knowledge that the total surgical section of the corpus callosum (CC) and of the other forebrain commissures prevents interhemispheric transfer (IT) of a host of mental functions. By contrast, IT of simple sensorimotor functions, although severely delayed, is not abolished, and an important question concerns the pathways subserving this residual IT. To answer this question we assessed visuomotor IT in split-brain patients using the Poffenberger paradigm (PP), that is, a behavioral paradigm in which simple reaction time (RT) to visual stimuli presented to the hemifield ipsilateral to the responding hand is compared to stimuli presented to the contralateral hemifield, a condition requiring an IT. We tested the possibility that the residual IT is mediated by the collicular commissure interconnecting the two sides of the superior colliculus (SC). To this purpose, we used short-wavelength visual stimuli, which in neurophysiological studies in non-human primates have been shown to be undetectable by collicular neurons. We found that, in both totally and partially callosotomised patients, IT was considerably longer with S-cone input than with L-cone input or with achromatic stimuli. This was not the case in healthy participants in whom IT was not affected by color. These data clearly show that the SC plays an important role in IT of sensorimotor information in the absence of the corpus callosum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Corpus Callosum / physiology*
  • Corpus Callosum / surgery
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Matched-Pair Analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Reference Values
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*