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      Tactile Capture of Auditory Localization Is Modulated by Hand Posture

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          It is well known that spatial discrepancies between synchronized auditory and visual events can lead to mislocalizations of the auditory stimulus toward the visual stimulus, the so-called ventriloquism effect. Recently, a similar effect of touch on audition has been reported. This study investigated whether this audio-tactile ventriloquism effect depends on hand posture. Participants reported the perceived location of brief auditory stimuli that were presented from left, right, and center locations, either alone or with concurrent tactile stimuli to the fingertips situated at the left and right sides of the speaker array. Compared to unimodal presentations, auditory localization was biased toward the side of the concurrent tactile stimulus in the bimodal trials. This effect was reduced but still significant when participants adopted a crossed-hands posture. In this condition a partial (incomplete) localization bias was observed only for large audio-tactile spatial discrepancies. However, localization was still shifted toward the external location of the tactile stimulus, and not toward the side of the anatomical hand that was stimulated. These results substantiate recent evidence for the existence of an audio-tactile ventriloquism effect and extend these findings by demonstrating that this illusion operates predominantly in an external coordinate system.

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          Most cited references 23

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          The ventriloquist effect results from near-optimal bimodal integration.

          Ventriloquism is the ancient art of making one's voice appear to come from elsewhere, an art exploited by the Greek and Roman oracles, and possibly earlier. We regularly experience the effect when watching television and movies, where the voices seem to emanate from the actors' lips rather than from the actual sound source. Originally, ventriloquism was explained by performers projecting sound to their puppets by special techniques, but more recently it is assumed that ventriloquism results from vision "capturing" sound. In this study we investigate spatial localization of audio-visual stimuli. When visual localization is good, vision does indeed dominate and capture sound. However, for severely blurred visual stimuli (that are poorly localized), the reverse holds: sound captures vision. For less blurred stimuli, neither sense dominates and perception follows the mean position. Precision of bimodal localization is usually better than either the visual or the auditory unimodal presentation. All the results are well explained not by one sense capturing the other, but by a simple model of optimal combination of visual and auditory information.
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            Neuronal oscillations and multisensory interaction in primary auditory cortex.

            Recent anatomical, physiological, and neuroimaging findings indicate multisensory convergence at early, putatively unisensory stages of cortical processing. The objective of this study was to confirm somatosensory-auditory interaction in A1 and to define both its physiological mechanisms and its consequences for auditory information processing. Laminar current source density and multiunit activity sampled during multielectrode penetrations of primary auditory area A1 in awake macaques revealed clear somatosensory-auditory interactions, with a novel mechanism: somatosensory inputs appear to reset the phase of ongoing neuronal oscillations, so that accompanying auditory inputs arrive during an ideal, high-excitability phase, and produce amplified neuronal responses. In contrast, responses to auditory inputs arriving during the opposing low-excitability phase tend to be suppressed. Our findings underscore the instrumental role of neuronal oscillations in cortical operations. The timing and laminar profile of the multisensory interactions in A1 indicate that nonspecific thalamic systems may play a key role in the effect.
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              Immediate perceptual response to intersensory discrepancy.


                Author and article information

                Experimental Psychology
                Hogrefe Publishing
                November 2009
                : 57
                : 4
                : 267-274
                [ 1 ] University of Hamburg, Germany
                Author notes
                Patrick Bruns, Biological Psychology and Neuropsychology, University of Hamburg, Von-Melle-Park 11, 20146 Hamburg, Germany, +49 40 42838 8265, +49 40 42838 6591, patrick.bruns@
                Self URI (journal-page):
                Research Article


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