The role of anterior ectosylvian cortex in cross-modality orientation and approach behavior

Exp Brain Res. 1996 Nov;112(1):1-10. doi: 10.1007/BF00227172.


Physiological and behavioral studies in cat have shown that corticotectal influences play important roles in the information-processing capabilities of superior colliculus (SC) neurons. While corticotectal inputs from the anterior ectosylvian sulcus (AES) play a comparatively small role in the unimodal responses of SC neurons, they are particularly important in rendering these neurons capable of integrating information from different sensory modalities (e.g., visual and auditory). The present experiments examined the behavioral consequences of depriving SC neurons of AES inputs, and thereby compromising their ability to integrate visual and auditory information. Selective deactivation of a variety of other cortical areas (posterolateral lateral suprasylvian cortex, PLLS; primary auditory cortex, AI; or primary visual cortex, 17/18) served as controls. Cats were trained in a perimetry device to ignore a brief, low-intensity auditory stimulus but to orient toward and approach a nearthreshold visual stimulus (a light-emitting diode, LED) to obtain food. The LED was presented at different eccentricities either alone (unimodal) or combined with the auditory stimulus (multisensory). Subsequent deactivation of the AES, with focal injections of a local anesthetic, had no effect on responses to unimodal cues regardless of their location. However, it profoundly, though reversibly, altered orientation and approach to multisensory stimuli in contralateral space. The characteristic enhancement of these responses observed when an auditory cue was presented in spatial correspondence with the visual stimulus was significantly degraded. Similarly, the inhibitory effect of a spatially disparate auditory cue was significantly ameliorated. The observed effects were specific to AES deactivation, as similar effects were not obtained with deactivation of PLLS, AI or 17/18, or saline injections into the AES. These observations are consistent with postulates that specific cortical-midbrain interactions are essential for the synthesis of multisensory information in the SC, and for the orientation and localization behaviors that depend on this synthesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Cats
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology*
  • Lidocaine / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Orientation / physiology*


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Lidocaine