The superior colliculus has long been thought of as a rapid orienting center of the brain that allows the eyes and head to turn swiftly either toward or away from the sights and sounds in our environment. Now a team of scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies has shown that the superior colliculus does more than send out motor control commands to eye and neck muscles.
Two complementary studies, both led by Richard Krauzlis, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Systems Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute, have revealed that the superior colliculus performs supervisory functions in addition to the motor control it has long been known for. The results are published in the Aug. 6 and Sept. 17 issues of the Journal of Neuroscience.
"Beyond its classic role in motor control, the primate superior colliculus signals to other brain areas the location of behaviorally relevant visual objects by providing a 'neural pointer' to these objects," says Krauzlis.