Abstract and Keywords
The mammalian superior colliculus (SC) serves the crucial function of guiding and coordinating the orienting response. Integrating multisensory, motor, and cognitive information, and sending motor commands directly to the brainstem circuitry, the SC initiates a rapid orienting response that can invoke much of the body. The phylogenetic preservation of this structure illustrates its ongoing significance for survival, but for higher mammals, evolutionary pressure for flexible control over orienting behaviour coincided with development of a much more complex set of corticotectal projections. As a result, orienting in higher mammals (e.g. primates) is controlled by a careful interplay between sensory-driven and goal-driven processes that converge in the SC. This review focuses on the SC as a critical locus for this interaction, whereby one compartment fits the role of a visual saliency map, and another a priority map that represents the integration of salience and behavioural relevance.
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