Motor functions of the superior colliculus

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2011:34:205-31. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-061010-113728.


The mammalian superior colliculus (SC) and its nonmammalian homolog, the optic tectum, constitute a major node in processing sensory information, incorporating cognitive factors, and issuing motor commands. The resulting action-to orient toward or away from a stimulus-can be accomplished as an integrated movement across oculomotor, cephalomotor, and skeletomotor effectors. The SC also participates in preserving fixation during intersaccadic intervals. This review highlights the repertoire of movements attributed to SC function and analyzes the significance of results obtained from causality-based experiments (microstimulation and inactivation). The mechanisms potentially used to decode the population activity in the SC into an appropriate movement command are also discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eye Movements
  • Head Movements
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Oculomotor Muscles / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Vibrissae / innervation
  • Vocalization, Animal