Why aren't all deep superior colliculus neurons multisensory? A Bayes' ratio analysis.
Multisensory neurons in the deep superior colliculus (SC) show response enhancement to cross-modal stimuli that coincide in time and space. However, multisensory SC neurons respond to unimodal input as well. It is thus legitimate to ask why not all deep SC neurons are multisensory or, at least, develop multisensory behavior during an organism's maturation. The novel answer given here derives from a signal detection theory perspective. A Bayes' ratio model of multisensory enhancement is suggested. It holds that deep SC neurons operate under the Bayes' ratio rule, which guarantees optimal performance-that is, it maximizes the probability of target detection while minimizing the false alarm rate. It is shown that optimal performance of multisensory neurons vis-à-vis cross-modal stimuli implies, at the same time, that modality-specific neurons will outperform multisensory neurons in processing unimodal targets. Thus, only the existence of both multisensory and modality-specific neurons allows optimal performance when targets of one or several modalities may occur.