Perceptual training narrows the temporal window of multisensory binding.

Powers AR, Hillock AR, Wallace MT
J Neurosci. 2009 29 (39): 12265-74

PMID: 19793985 · PMCID: PMC2771316 · DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3501-09.2009

The brain's ability to bind incoming auditory and visual stimuli depends critically on the temporal structure of this information. Specifically, there exists a temporal window of audiovisual integration within which stimuli are highly likely to be bound together and perceived as part of the same environmental event. Several studies have described the temporal bounds of this window, but few have investigated its malleability. Here, the plasticity in the size of this temporal window was investigated using a perceptual learning paradigm in which participants were given feedback during a two-alternative forced choice (2-AFC) audiovisual simultaneity judgment task. Training resulted in a marked (i.e., approximately 40%) narrowing in the size of the window. To rule out the possibility that this narrowing was the result of changes in cognitive biases, a second experiment using a two-interval forced choice (2-IFC) paradigm was undertaken during which participants were instructed to identify a simultaneously presented audiovisual pair presented within one of two intervals. The 2-IFC paradigm resulted in a narrowing that was similar in both degree and dynamics to that using the 2-AFC approach. Together, these results illustrate that different methods of multisensory perceptual training can result in substantial alterations in the circuits underlying the perception of audiovisual simultaneity. These findings suggest a high degree of flexibility in multisensory temporal processing and have important implications for interventional strategies that may be used to ameliorate clinical conditions (e.g., autism, dyslexia) in which multisensory temporal function may be impaired.

MeSH Terms (11)

Acoustic Stimulation Auditory Perception Female Humans Male Photic Stimulation Psychomotor Performance Reaction Time Time Factors Visual Perception Young Adult

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