The effects of lesions of the superior colliculus on locomotor orientation and the orienting reflex in the rat Academic Article uri icon


  • The effects of bilateral removal of the superior colliculus or visual cortex on visually guided locomotor movements in rats performing a brightness discrimination task were investigated directly with the use of cine film. Rats with collicular lesions showed patterns of locomotion comparable to or more efficient than those of normal animals when approaching one of 5 small doors located at one end of a large open area. In contrast, animals with large but incomplete lesions of visual cortex were distinctly impaired in their visual control of approach responses to the same stimuli. On the other hand, rats with collicular damage showed no orienting reflex or evidence of distraction in the same task when novel visual or auditory stimuli were presented. However, both normal and visual-decorticate rats showed various components of the orienting reflex and disturbance in task performance when the same novel stimuli were presented. These results suggest that although the superior colliculus does not appear to be essential to the visual control of locomotor orientation, this midbrain structure might participate in the mediation of shifts in visual fixation and attention. Visual cortex, while contributing to visuospatial guidance of locomotor movements, might not play a significant role in the control and integration of the orienting reflex.

publication date

  • May 1975