Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
It had previously been shown that influences from two cortical areas, the anterior ectosylvian sulcus (AES) and the rostral lateral suprasylvian sulcus (rLS), play critical roles in rendering superior colliculus (SC) neurons capable of synthesizing their cross-modal inputs. The present studies examined the consequences of selectively eliminating these cortical influences on SC-mediated orientation responses to cross-modal stimuli. Cats were trained to orient to a low-intensity modality-specific cue (visual) in the presence or absence of a neutral cue from another modality (auditory). The visual target could appear at various locations within 45° of the midline, and the stimulus effectiveness was varied to yield an average of correct orientation responses of approximately 45%. Response enhancement and depression were observed when the auditory cue was coupled with the target stimulus: A substantially enhanced probability in correct responses was evident when the cross-modal stimuli were spatially coincident, and a substantially decreased response probability was obtained when the stimuli were spatially disparate. Cryogenic blockade of either AES or rLS disrupted these behavioral effects, thereby eliminating the enhanced performance in response to spatially coincident cross-modal cues and degrading the depressed performance in response to spatially disparate cross-modal cues. These disruptive effects on targets contralateral to the deactivated cortex were restricted to multisensory interactive processes. Orientation to modality-specific targets was unchanged. Furthermore, the pattern of orientation errors was unaffected by cortical deactivation. These data bear striking similarities to the effects of AES and rLS deactivation on multisensory integration at the level of individual SC neurons. Presumably, eliminating the critical influences from AES or rLS cortex disrupts SC multisensory synthesis that, in turn, disables SC-mediated multisensory orientation behaviors.