Multimodality in the superior colliculus: An information theoretic analysis

Paul Patton, Kamel Belkacem-Boussaid, Thomas J. Anastasio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The deep superior colliculus (DSC) integrates multisensory input and triggers an orienting movement toward the source of stimulation (target). It would seem reasonable to suppose that input of an additional modality should always increase the amount of information received by a DSC neuron concerning a target. However, of all DSC neurons studied, only about one half in the cat and one-quarter in the monkey were multimodal. The rest received only unimodal input. Multimodal DSC neurons show the properties of multisensory enhancement, in which the neural response to an input of one modality is augmented by input of another modality, and of inverse effectiveness, in which weaker unimodal responses produce a higher percentage enhancement. Previously, we demonstrated that these properties are consistent with the hypothesis that DSC neurons use Bayes' rule to compute the posterior probability that a target is present given their stochastic sensory inputs. Here we use an information theoretic analysis of our Bayesian model to show that input of an additional modality may indeed increase target information, but only if input received from the initial modality does not completely reduce uncertainty concerning the presence of a target. Unimodal DSC neurons may be those whose unimodal input fully reduces target uncertainty and therefore have no need for input of another modality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-19
Number of pages10
JournalCognitive Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Bayes' rule
  • Information theory
  • Multisensory integration
  • Probability theory
  • Superior colliculus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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