The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Neurons in the most superficial lamina of the mouse superior colliculus are highly selective for stimulus direction.

PMID 25995482


The superior colliculus (SC) is a layered midbrain structure important for multimodal integration and sensorimotor transformation. Its superficial layers are purely visual and receive depth-specific projections from distinct subtypes of retinal ganglion cells. Here we use two-photon calcium imaging to characterize the response properties of neurons in the most superficial lamina of the mouse SC, an undersampled population with electrophysiology. We find that these neurons have compact receptive fields with primarily overlapping ON and OFF subregions and are highly direction selective. The high selectivity is observed in both excitatory and inhibitory neurons. These neurons do not cluster according to their direction preference and lack orientation selectivity. In addition, we perform single-unit recordings and show that direction selectivity declines with depth in the SC. Together, our experiments reveal for the first time a highly specialized lamina in the most superficial SC for movement direction, a finding that has important implications for understanding signal transformation in the early visual system.