July 2013
Volume 13, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   July 2013
Processing of collision information in the human superior colliculus
Author Affiliations
  • Peng Zhang
    State Key Lab of Cognitive Sciences, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Sheng He
    State Key Lab of Cognitive Sciences, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences\nDepartment of Psychology, University of Minnesota
Journal of Vision July 2013, Vol.13, 222. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/13.9.222
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      Peng Zhang, Sheng He; Processing of collision information in the human superior colliculus. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):222. https://doi.org/10.1167/13.9.222.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Detecting looming objects with imminent collision is crucial for survival. The involvement of the human subcortical visual pathway in processing such threatening information remains unclear. Using fMRI, we investigated the functional properties of the superior colliculus (SC) in responding to potential collision information, with or without attention to or consciousness of the colliding object. In experiment 1, subjects judged whether a looming object was on a collision course with the subjects’ head. BOLD response of the SC was stronger when the looming stimulus was on vs. off a colliding course. SC response to collision was also lateralized - stronger when the collision stimulus originated from the contralateral rather than ipsilateral visual field of the SC; and stronger when the would-be point of collision was contralateral than ipsilateral to the SC. In experiment 2, subjects’ attention was directed to a demanding central fixation task, and consequently no reliable BOLD responses were found in the SC to the looming event, suggesting that some level of attention is needed for the SC to process the collision information. In experiment 3, awareness to the collision object was greatly reduced by presenting the looming stimulus briefly (233 ms) and together with nine other near miss distractors. Results showed stronger SC activities to looming targets on than off the collision course, even when subjects were unable to correctly detect the collision event. These results suggest that SC plays a critical and spatially specific role in the processing of collision information, and this neural process in SC is dependent on the availability of attention but not explicit awareness of the threatening information.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013


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