Signals from the superficial layers of the superior colliculus enable the development of the auditory space map in the deeper layers.
King AJ., Schnupp JW., Thompson ID.
We have examined whether the superficial layers of the superior colliculus (SC) provide the source of visual signals that guide the development of the auditory space map in the deeper layers. Anatomical tracing experiments with fluorescent microspheres revealed that a retinotopic map is present in the newborn ferret SC. Aspiration of the caudal region of the superficial layers of the right SC on postnatal day 0 did not cause a reorganization of this projection. Consequently, recordings made when the animals were mature showed that visual units in the remaining superficial layers in rostral SC had receptive fields that spanned a restricted region of anterior space. Auditory units recorded beneath the remaining superficial layers were tuned to corresponding anterior locations. Both the superficial layer visual map and the deeper layer auditory map were normal in the left, unoperated SC. The majority of auditory units recorded throughout the deeper layers ventral to the superficial layer lesion were also tuned to single sound directions. In this region of the SC, however, we observed much greater scatter in the distribution of preferred sound directions and a significant increase in the proportion of units with spatially ambiguous responses. The auditory representation was degraded, although many of these units were also visually responsive. Equivalent lesions of the superficial layers made in adult ferrets did not alter the topographic order in the auditory representation, suggesting that visual activity in these layers may be involved in aligning the different sensory maps in the developing SC.