Senior Investigator, Laboratory of Sensorimotor Research
National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health
The underbelly of vision and action: The role of the brainstem in spatial attention
The process of transforming sensory inputs into actions is commonly viewed as a serial and hierarchical affair: the cerebral cortex evaluates and decides, and the brainstem generates the necessary motor outputs. However, in vertebrates with a less-developed cerebral cortex, the responsibility for integrating different sources of sensory information and gating appropriate behavioral responses falls to brainstem structures such as the superior colliculus (SC). In this talk, I will present evidence that the SC retains a similar role in higher-level sensory-motor functions even in the primate. Specifically, the SC plays a crucial role in the control of visual spatial attention, and appears to do so through mechanisms that are independent of the well-known signatures of spatial attention in the visual cortex.
Background Reading: Nature Neuroscience