Localization, Orienting Responses and Attention in the Golden Hamster

  • Catherine Thinus-Blanc
Part of the NATO Advanced Science Institutes Series book series (NSSA, volume 56)


An important feature of neuroethology is the comparative approach to brain-behavior relationships. The optic tectum (colliculus superior in mammals) provides a good example of parallelism between structural and functional homologies. This correspondence was schematized in rather provoking terms by Humphrey (1970): “...after removal of the visual cortex the monkey sees in some ways like a frog, as if the lesion produced a sort of phylogenetic regression... in the orienting movements a toad makes to fly we are indeed witnessing the primitive homologue of the visual-grasp eye-movement with which advanced mammals fixate visual targets and which are the only token of visually guided behavior left in the de-striate monkey”. Thus, through the phylogenetical scale, from the responses of amphibians toward fixed features of prey objects, to the ocular saccades of monkey and man, a broad category of tectal functions appears to correspond to “visually elicited orienting movements” (Ingle, 1973, 1981; Goodale and Milner, 1981). Despite this phylogenetic continuity, behavioral studies of the effects of collicular lesions in rodents have been rather confusing (for review see Goodale and Milner, 1981). I shall outline a few representative controversial points. One of these is Schneider’s distinction (1967, 1969) between “two visual systems” in hamsters: a retino-geniculo-striate one, responsible for the identification of visual stimuli and a retino-tectal one, involved in their localization. Hamsters were postoperatively trained in a simultaneous discrimination double-choice apparatus. The hamsters with cortical lesions were unable to learn this task; subjects with collicular undercut failed to orient from the starting point to the positive stimulus, but if they arrived at the negative one, they did not push that door.


Superior Colliculus Negative Stimulus Optic Tectum Orienting Response Approach Response 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine Thinus-Blanc
    • 1
  1. 1.Département de Psychologie AnimaleInstitut de Neurophysiologie et PsychophysiologieMarseille Cedex 9France

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