Il ruolo del collicolo superiore nell'orientamento spaziale

Leo, Fabrizio (2009) Il ruolo del collicolo superiore nell'orientamento spaziale, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Psicologia generale e clinica, 21 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/1423.
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This thesis was aimed at verifying the role of the superior colliculus (SC) in human spatial orienting. To do so, subjects performed two experimental tasks that have been shown to involve SC’s activation in animals, that is a multisensory integration task (Experiment 1 and 2) and a visual target selection task (Experiment 3). To investigate this topic in humans, we took advantage of neurophysiological finding revealing that retinal S-cones do not send projections to the collicular and magnocellular pathway. In the Experiment 1, subjects performed a simple reaction-time task in which they were required to respond as quickly as possible to any sensory stimulus (visual, auditory or bimodal audio-visual). The visual stimulus could be an S-cone stimulus (invisible to the collicular and magnocellular pathway) or a long wavelength stimulus (visible to the SC). Results showed that when using S-cone stimuli, RTs distribution was simply explained by probability summation, indicating that the redundant auditory and visual channels are independent. Conversely, with red long-wavelength stimuli, visible to the SC, the RTs distribution was related to nonlinear neural summation, which constitutes evidence of integration of different sensory information. We also demonstrate that when AV stimuli were presented at fixation, so that the spatial orienting component of the task was reduced, neural summation was possible regardless of stimulus color. Together, these findings provide support for a pivotal role of the SC in mediating multisensory spatial integration in humans, when behavior involves spatial orienting responses. Since previous studies have shown an anatomical asymmetry of fibres projecting to the SC from the hemiretinas, the Experiment 2 was aimed at investigating temporo-nasal asymmetry in multisensory integration. To do so, subjects performed monocularly the same task shown in the Experiment 1. When spatially coincident audio-visual stimuli were visible to the SC (i.e. red stimuli), the RTE depended on a neural coactivation mechanism, suggesting an integration of multisensory information. When using stimuli invisible to the SC (i.e. purple stimuli), the RTE depended only on a simple statistical facilitation effect, in which the two sensory stimuli were processed by independent channels. Finally, we demonstrate that the multisensory integration effect was stronger for stimuli presented to the temporal hemifield than to the nasal hemifield. Taken together, these findings suggested that multisensory stimulation can be differentially effective depending on specific stimulus parameters. The Experiment 3 was aimed at verifying the role of the SC in target selection by using a color-oddity search task, comprising stimuli either visible or invisible to the collicular and magnocellular pathways. Subjects were required to make a saccade toward a target that could be presented alone or with three distractors of another color (either S-cone or long-wavelength). When using S-cone distractors, invisible to the SC, localization errors were similar to those observed in the distractor-free condition. Conversely, with long-wavelength distractors, visible to the SC, saccadic localization error and variability were significantly greater than in either the distractor-free condition or the S-cone distractors condition. Our results clearly indicate that the SC plays a direct role in visual target selection in humans. Overall, our results indicate that the SC plays an important role in mediating spatial orienting responses both when required covert (Experiments 1 and 2) and overt orienting (Experiment 3).

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Leo, Fabrizio
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze umanistiche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Integrazione multisensoriale; selezione del target; orientamento covert e overt; collicolo superiore
Data di discussione
27 Aprile 2009

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