The superior colliculus (SC) in primates plays an important role in orienting gaze and arms toward novel stimuli. Here we ask whether neurons in the intermediate and deep layers of the SC are also involved in the interaction with objects. In two trained monkeys we found a large number of SC units that were specifically activated when the monkeys contacted and pushed a target that had been reached with either hand. These neurons, however, were silent when the monkeys simply looked at or reached for the target but did not touch it. The activity related to interacting with objects was spatially tuned and increased with push strength. Neurons in the SC with this type of activity may be involved in a somatosensory-motor feedback loop that monitors the force of the active muscles together with the spatial position of the limb required for proper interaction with an object.
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