Visual Signals in the Mammalian Auditory System.
Coordination between different sensory systems is a necessary element of sensory processing. Where and how signals from different sense organs converge onto common neural circuitry have become topics of increasing interest in recent years. In this article, we focus specifically on visual-auditory interactions in areas of the mammalian brain that are commonly considered to be auditory in function. The auditory cortex and inferior colliculus are two key points of entry where visual signals reach the auditory pathway, and both contain visual- and/or eye movement-related signals in humans and other animals. The visual signals observed in these auditory structures reflect a mixture of visual modulation of auditory-evoked activity and visually driven responses that are selective for stimulus location or features. These key response attributes also appear in the classic visual pathway but may play a different role in the auditory pathway: to modify auditory rather than visual perception. Finally, while this review focuses on two particular areas of the auditory pathway where this question has been studied, robust descending as well as ascending connections within this pathway suggest that undiscovered visual signals may be present at other stages as well.
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