Defined Cell Types in Superior Colliculus Make Distinct Contributions to Prey Capture Behavior in the Mouse

Curr Biol. 2019 Dec 2;29(23):4130-4138.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.10.017. Epub 2019 Nov 21.


The superior colliculus (SC) plays a highly conserved role in visual processing and mediates visual orienting behaviors across species, including both overt motor orienting [1, 2] and orienting of attention [3, 4]. To determine the specific circuits within the superficial superior colliculus (sSC) that drive orienting and approach behavior toward appetitive stimuli, we explored the role of three genetically defined cell types in mediating prey capture in mice. Chemogenetic inactivation of two classically defined cell types, the wide-field (WF) and narrow-field (NF) vertical neurons, revealed that they are involved in distinct aspects of prey capture. WF neurons were required for rapid prey detection and distant approach initiation, whereas NF neurons were required for accurate orienting during pursuit as well as approach initiation and continuity. In contrast, prey capture did not require parvalbumin-expressing (PV) neurons that have previously been implicated in fear responses. The visual coding and projection targets of WF and NF cells were consistent with their roles in prey detection versus pursuit, respectively. Thus, our studies link specific neural circuit connectivity and function with stimulus detection and orienting behavior, providing insight into visuomotor and attentional mechanisms mediated by superior colliculus.

Keywords: mouse vision; prey capture; receptive fields; superior colliculus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice / physiology*
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Predatory Behavior / physiology*
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*