Development of Multisensory Processes

We live in an amazingly multisensory world—one in which we are continually bombarded with stimuli from a variety of different sensory modalities.

One of the principal jobs of the nervous system is to synthesize this mélange of sensory information into a meaningful behavioral and perceptual whole.

Despite significant advances in recent years in our understanding of the neural architecture of such sensory synthesis in the adult brain, we know surprising little about how such vital circuits develop. To this end, research in our laboratory focuses of how multisensory circuits appear and mature in the developing brain.

Parallel studies in the laboratory focus on two brain regions—a brainstem structure, the superior colliculus (SC), which is important in the control of gaze, and a cortical region, the anterior ectosylvian sulcus (AES), which undoubtedly plays an important, but as yet poorly understood role in multisensory perception.

These studies employ a variety of methodologies, including single-unit electrophysiology, microstimulation, cryoblockade, neuroanatomical tract tracing and behavioral paradigms. Ultimately, the goal of this work is to gain a more complete understanding of the developmental events that result in the formation of mature multisensory representations in the brain, as well as furthering our understanding of how the development of such representations result in the formation of mature multisensory behaviors and perceptions.