Distributed population coding of multisensory spatial information in the associative cortex

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Abstract

This study describes a possible mechanism of coding of multisensory information in the anterior ectosylvian visual area of the feline cortex. Extracellular microelectrode recordings on 168 cells were carried out in the anterior ectosylvian sulcal region of halothane-anaesthetized, immobilized, artificially ventilated cats. Ninety-five neurons were found to respond to visual stimuli, 96 responded to auditory stimuli and 45 were bimodal, reacting to both visual and auditory modalities. A large proportion of the neurons exhibited significantly different responses to stimuli appearing in different regions of their huge receptive field. These neurons have the ability to provide information via their discharge rate on the site of the stimulus within their receptive field. This suggests that they may serve as panoramic localizers. The ability of the bimodal neurons to localize bimodal stimulus sources is better than any of the unimodal localizing functions. Further, the sites of maximal responsivity of the visual, auditory and bimodal neurons are distributed over the whole extent of the large receptive fields. Thus, a large population of such panoramic visual, auditory and multisensory neurons could accurately code the locations of the sensory stimuli. Our findings support the notion that there is a distributed population code of multisensory information in the feline associative cortex.

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