Interactions between the spatial and temporal stimulus factors that influence multisensory integration in human performance.

Stevenson RA, Fister JK, Barnett ZP, Nidiffer AR, Wallace MT
Exp Brain Res. 2012 219 (1): 121-37

PMID: 22447249 · PMCID: PMC3526341 · DOI:10.1007/s00221-012-3072-1

In natural environments, human sensory systems work in a coordinated and integrated manner to perceive and respond to external events. Previous research has shown that the spatial and temporal relationships of sensory signals are paramount in determining how information is integrated across sensory modalities, but in ecologically plausible settings, these factors are not independent. In the current study, we provide a novel exploration of the impact on behavioral performance for systematic manipulations of the spatial location and temporal synchrony of a visual-auditory stimulus pair. Simple auditory and visual stimuli were presented across a range of spatial locations and stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs), and participants performed both a spatial localization and simultaneity judgment task. Response times in localizing paired visual-auditory stimuli were slower in the periphery and at larger SOAs, but most importantly, an interaction was found between the two factors, in which the effect of SOA was greater in peripheral as opposed to central locations. Simultaneity judgments also revealed a novel interaction between space and time: individuals were more likely to judge stimuli as synchronous when occurring in the periphery at large SOAs. The results of this study provide novel insights into (a) how the speed of spatial localization of an audiovisual stimulus is affected by location and temporal coincidence and the interaction between these two factors and (b) how the location of a multisensory stimulus impacts judgments concerning the temporal relationship of the paired stimuli. These findings provide strong evidence for a complex interdependency between spatial location and temporal structure in determining the ultimate behavioral and perceptual outcome associated with a paired multisensory (i.e., visual-auditory) stimulus.

MeSH Terms (15)

Acoustic Stimulation Adolescent Auditory Perception Female Humans Judgment Male Photic Stimulation Psychophysics Reaction Time Signal Detection, Psychological Space Perception Time Factors Visual Perception Young Adult

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