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Individual differences in multisensory integration and timing

Freeman, E. D. & Ipser, A. (2016). Individual differences in multisensory integration and timing. Electronic Imaging, 2016(16), pp. 1-4. doi: 10.2352/ISSN.2470-1173.2016.16HVEI-097


The senses have traditionally been studied separately, but it is now recognised that the brain is just as richly multisensory as is our natural environment. This creates fresh challenges for understanding how complex multisensory information is organised and coordinated around the brain. Take timing for example: the sight and sound of a person speaking or a ball bouncing may seem simultaneous, but their neural signals from each modality arrive at different multisensory areas in the brain at different times. How do we nevertheless perceive the synchrony of the original events correctly? It is popularly assumed that this is achieved via some mechanism of multisensory temporal recalibration. But recent work from my lab on normal and pathological individual differences show that sight and sound are nevertheless markedly out of synch by different amounts for each individual and even for different tasks performed by the same individual. Indeed, the more an individual perceive the same multisensory event as having an auditory lead and an auditory lag at the same time. This evidence of apparent temporal disunity sheds new light on the deep problem of understanding how neural timing relates to perceptual timing of multisensory events. It also leads to concrete therapeutic applications: for example, we may now be able to improve an individual’s speech comprehension by simply delaying sound or vision to compensate for their individual perceptual asynchrony.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Reprinted with permission of IS&T: The Society for Imaging Science and Technology sole copyright owners of Electronic Imaging, Human Vision and Electronic Imaging 2016.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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