The Wellcome Prize Lecture. A map of auditory space in the mammalian brain: neural computation and development.
The experiments described in this review have demonstrated that the SC contains a two-dimensional map of auditory space, which is synthesized within the brain using a combination of monaural and binaural localization cues. There is also an adaptive fusion of auditory and visual space in this midbrain nucleus, providing for a common access to the motor pathways that control orientation behaviour. This necessitates a highly plastic relationship between the visual and auditory systems, both during postnatal development and in adult life. Because of the independent mobility of difference sense organs, gating mechanisms are incorporated into the auditory representation to provide up-to-date information about the spatial orientation of the eyes and ears. The SC therefore provides a valuable model system for studying a number of important issues in brain function, including the neural coding of sound location, the co-ordination of spatial information between different sensory systems, and the integration of sensory signals with motor outputs.