Bilateral and Multimodal Sensory Interactions of Single Cells in the Pigeon's Midbrain

Gary O. Ballam, Kansas City University


Standard microelectrode recording techniques were employed to monitor single unit activity in the pigeon's nucleus intercollicularis and medial substantia grisea et fibrosa periventricularis in response to visual, tactile and auditory stimuli. Approximately 40% of the units were driven exclusively by visual stimuli, 8% by tactile stimuli, 47% by both visual and tactile stimuli and a very small percentage by auditory stimuli. Visual receptive fields were generally excitatory in the contralateral eye and suppressive in the ipsilateral eye. Most units were movement selective and some demonstrated direction sensitivity, summation and habituation. Units were generally insensitive to stimulus shape or contrast reversal. Somatosensory receptive fields were located on both sides of the body and were either excitatory or suppressive or both. Ipsilateral visual and somatosensory bimodal inputs were most often of the same sign while ipsilateral visual and contralateral somatosensory bimodal inputs tended to be of opposite sign. Visual and somatosensory receptive field locations of bimodal units tended to be in register.