Visual- and saccade-related signals in the primate inferior colliculus.

PNAS 104(45):17855 (2007) PMID 17978183 PMCID PMC2077072

The inferior colliculus (IC) is normally thought of as a predominantly auditory structure because of its early position in the ascending auditory pathway just before the auditory thalamus. Here, we show that a majority of IC neurons (64% of 180 neurons) in awake monkeys carry visual- and/or saccade-related signals in addition to their auditory responses (P < 0.05). The response patterns involve primarily excitatory visual responses, but also increased activity time-locked to the saccade, slow rises in activity time-locked to the onset of the visual stimulus, and inhibitory responses. The presence of these visual-related signals suggests that the IC plays a role in integrating visual and auditory information. More broadly, our results show that interactions between sensory pathways can occur at very early points in sensory processing streams, which implies that multisensory integration may be a low-level rather than an exclusively high-level process.