Auditory and visual interactions between the superior and inferior colliculi in the ferret

Eur J Neurosci. 2015 May;41(10):1311-20. doi: 10.1111/ejn.12847. Epub 2015 Feb 3.


The integration of visual and auditory spatial information is important for building an accurate perception of the external world, but the fundamental mechanisms governing such audiovisual interaction have only partially been resolved. The earliest interface between auditory and visual processing pathways is in the midbrain, where the superior (SC) and inferior colliculi (IC) are reciprocally connected in an audiovisual loop. Here, we investigate the mechanisms of audiovisual interaction in the midbrain by recording neural signals from the SC and IC simultaneously in anesthetized ferrets. Visual stimuli reliably produced band-limited phase locking of IC local field potentials (LFPs) in two distinct frequency bands: 6-10 and 15-30 Hz. These visual LFP responses co-localized with robust auditory responses that were characteristic of the IC. Imaginary coherence analysis confirmed that visual responses in the IC were not volume-conducted signals from the neighboring SC. Visual responses in the IC occurred later than retinally driven superficial SC layers and earlier than deep SC layers that receive indirect visual inputs, suggesting that retinal inputs do not drive visually evoked responses in the IC. In addition, SC and IC recording sites with overlapping visual spatial receptive fields displayed stronger functional connectivity than sites with separate receptive fields, indicating that visual spatial maps are aligned across both midbrain structures. Reciprocal coupling between the IC and SC therefore probably serves the dynamic integration of visual and auditory representations of space.

Keywords: auditory; ferret; local field potential; midbrain; visual.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Female
  • Ferrets
  • Inferior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*