Spatial Determinants of Multisensory Integration In Cat Superior Colliculus Neurons. Meredith, M. Alex and Barry E. Stein. Department of Anatomy, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC.
APStracts 2:0012N, 1996.
1. While a representation of multisensory space is contained in the superior colliculus, little is known about the spatial requirements of multisensory stimuli that influence the activity of neurons here. Critical to this problem is an assessment of the registry of the different receptive fields within individual multisensory neurons. The present study was initiated to determine how closely the receptive fields of individual multisensory neurons are aligned, the physiological role of that alignment, and the possible functional consequences of inducing receptive field misalignment. 2. Individual multisensory neurons in the superior colliculus of anesthetized, paralyzed cats were studied using standard extracellular recording techniques. The receptive fields of multisensory neurons were large, as reported previously, but exhibited a surprisingly high degree of spatial coincidence. The average proportion of receptive field overlap was 86% for the population of visual- auditory neurons sampled. 3. Due to this high degree of intersensory receptive field correspondence, combined-modality stimuli that were coincident in space tended to fall within the excitatory regions of the receptive fields involved. The result was a significantly enhanced neuronal response in 88% of the multisensory neurons studied. If stimuli were spatially disparate, so that one fell outside its receptive field, either a decreased response occurred (56%), or no intersensory effect was apparent (44%) 4. The normal alignment of the different receptive fields of a multisensory neuron could be disrupted by passively displacing the eyes, pinnae, or limbs/body. In no case was a shift in location or size observed in a neuron's other receptive field(s) to compensate for this displacement. The physiological result of receptive field misalignment was predictable and based on the location of the stimuli relative to the new positions of their respective receptive fields. Now, for example, one component of a spatially coincident pair of stimuli might fall outside its receptive field and inhibit the other's effects. 5. These data underscore the dependence of multisensory integrative responses on the relationship of the different stimuli to their corresponding receptive fields rather than to the spatial relationship of the stimuli to one another. Apparently, the alignment of different receptive fields for individual multisensory neurons ensures that responses to combinations of stimuli derived from the same event are integrated to increase the salience of that event. Therefore, the maintenance of receptive field alignment is critical for the appropriate integration of converging sensory signals and, ultimately, elicitation of adaptive behaviors.

Received 8 December 1995; accepted in final form 16 November 1995.
APS Manuscript Number J769-4.
Article publication pending J. Neurophysiol.
ISSN 1080-4757 Copyright 1996 The American Physiological Society.
Published in APStracts on 22 January 96