Modality Distribution of Sensory Neurons in the Feline Caudate Nucleus and the Substantia Nigra
Despite extensive analysis of the motor functions of the basal ganglia and the fact that multisensory information processing appears critical for the execution of their behavioral action, little is known concerning the sensory functions of the caudate nucleus (CN) and the substantia nigra (SN). In the present study, we set out to describe the sensory modality distribution and to determine the proportions of multisensory units within the CN and the SN. The separate single sensory modality tests demonstrated that a majority of the neurons responded to only one modality, so that they seemed to be unimodal. In contrast with these findings, a large proportion of these neurons exhibited significant multisensory cross-modal interactions. Thus, these neurons should also be classified as multisensory. Our results suggest that a surprisingly high proportion of sensory neurons in the basal ganglia are multisensory, and demonstrate that an analysis without a consideration of multisensory cross-modal interactions may strongly underrepresent the number of multisensory units. We conclude that a majority of the sensory neurons in the CN and SN process multisensory information and only a minority of these units are clearly unimodal.
KeywordsVisual auditory somatosensory multisensory integration basal ganglia
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