Distribution of eye position information in the monkey inferior colliculus.

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The inferior colliculus (IC) is thought to have two main subdivisions, a central region that forms an important stop on the ascending auditory pathway and a surrounding shell region that may play a more modulatory role. In this study, we investigated whether eye position affects activity in both the central and shell regions. Accordingly, we mapped the location of eye position-sensitive neurons in six monkeys making spontaneous eye movements by sampling multiunit activity at regularly spaced intervals throughout the IC. We used a functional map based on auditory response patterns to estimate the anatomical location of recordings, in conjunction with structural MRI and histology. We found eye position-sensitive sites throughout the IC, including at 27% of sites in tonotopically organized recording penetrations (putatively the central nucleus). Recordings from surrounding tissue showed a larger proportion of sites indicating an influence of eye position (33-43%). When present, the magnitude of the change in activity due to eye position was often comparable to that seen for sound frequency. Our results indicate that the primary ascending auditory pathway is influenced by the position of the eyes. Because eye position is essential for visual-auditory integration, our findings suggest that computations underlying visual-auditory integration begin early in the ascending auditory pathway.





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Bulkin, David A, and Jennifer M Groh (2012). Distribution of eye position information in the monkey inferior colliculus. Journal of neurophysiology, 107(3). pp. 785–795. 10.1152/jn.00662.2011 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/17894.

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Jennifer M. Groh

Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

Research in my laboratory concerns how sensory and motor systems work together, and how neural representations play a combined role in sensorimotor and cognitive processing (embodied cognition).

Most of our work concerns the interactions between vision and hearing. We frequently perceive visual and auditory stimuli as being bound together if they seem likely to have arisen from a common source. That's why we tend not to notice that the speakers on TV sets or in movie theatres are located beside, and not behind, the screen. Research in my laboratory is devoted to investigating the question of how the brain coordinates the information arising from the ears and eyes. Our findings challenge the historical view of the brain's sensory processing as being automatic, autonomous, and immune from outside influence. We have recently established that neurons in the auditory pathway (inferior colliculus, auditory cortex) alter their responses to sound depending on where the eyes are pointing. This finding suggests that the different sensory pathways meddle in one another's supposedly private affairs, making their respective influences felt even at very early stages of processing. The process of bringing the signals from two different sensory pathways into a common frame of reference begins at a surprisingly early point along the primary sensory pathways.

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