Incorporating cross-modal statistics in the development and maintenance of multisensory integration.
Development of multisensory integration capabilities in superior colliculus (SC) neurons was examined in cats whose visual-auditory experience was restricted to a circumscribed period during early life (postnatal day 30-8 months). Animals were periodically exposed to visual and auditory stimuli appearing either randomly in space and time, or always in spatiotemporal concordance. At all other times animals were maintained in darkness. Physiological testing was initiated at ∼2 years of age. Exposure to random visual and auditory stimuli proved insufficient to spur maturation of the ability to integrate cross-modal stimuli, but exposure to spatiotemporally concordant cross-modal stimuli was highly effective. The multisensory integration capabilities of neurons in the latter group resembled those of normal animals and were retained for >16 months in the absence of subsequent visual-auditory experience. Furthermore, the neurons were capable of integrating stimuli having physical properties differing significantly from those in the exposure set. These observations suggest that acquiring the rudiments of multisensory integration requires little more than exposure to consistent relationships between the modality-specific components of a cross-modal event, and that continued experience with such events is not necessary for their maintenance. Apparently, the statistics of cross-modal experience early in life define the spatial and temporal filters that determine whether the components of cross-modal stimuli are to be integrated or treated as independent events, a crucial developmental process that determines the spatial and temporal rules by which cross-modal stimuli are integrated to enhance both sensory salience and the likelihood of eliciting an SC-mediated motor response.
Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157, USA.
SourceThe Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience 32:7 2012 Feb 15 pg 2287-98
Sensory Receptor Cells
Pub Type(s)Comparative Study
Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural