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Links between temporal acuity and multisensory integration across life span.

Stevenson RA, Baum SH, Krueger J, Newhouse PA, Wallace MT
J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2018 44 (1): 106-116

PMID: 28447850 · PMCID: PMC5659980 · DOI:10.1037/xhp0000424

The temporal relationship between individual pieces of information from the different sensory modalities is one of the stronger cues to integrate such information into a unified perceptual gestalt, conveying numerous perceptual and behavioral advantages. Temporal acuity, however, varies greatly over the life span. It has previously been hypothesized that changes in temporal acuity in both development and healthy aging may thus play a key role in integrative abilities. This study tested the temporal acuity of 138 individuals ranging in age from 5 to 80. Temporal acuity and multisensory integration abilities were tested both within and across modalities (audition and vision) with simultaneity judgment and temporal order judgment tasks. We observed that temporal acuity, both within and across modalities, improved throughout development into adulthood and subsequently declined with healthy aging, as did the ability to integrate multisensory speech information. Of importance, throughout development, temporal acuity of simple stimuli (i.e., flashes and beeps) predicted individuals' abilities to integrate more complex speech information. However, in the aging population, although temporal acuity declined with healthy aging and was accompanied by declines in integrative abilities, temporal acuity was not able to predict integration at the individual level. Together, these results suggest that the impact of temporal acuity on multisensory integration varies throughout the life span. Although the maturation of temporal acuity drives the rise of multisensory integrative abilities during development, it is unable to account for changes in integrative abilities in healthy aging. The differential relationships between age, temporal acuity, and multisensory integration suggest an important role for experience in these processes. (PsycINFO Database Record

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MeSH Terms (16)

Adolescent Adult Aged Aged, 80 and over Aging Child Child, Preschool Female Human Development Humans Male Middle Aged Speech Perception Time Perception Visual Perception Young Adult

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