The multifaceted interplay between attention and multisensory integration. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14, 400-410

Department of Cognitive Psychology and Ergonomics, University of Twente, P.O. Box 215, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands.
Trends in Cognitive Sciences (Impact Factor: 21.97). 09/2010; 14(9):400-10. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2010.06.008
Source: PubMed


Multisensory integration has often been characterized as an automatic process. Recent findings indicate that multisensory integration can occur across various stages of stimulus processing that are linked to, and can be modulated by, attention. Stimulus-driven, bottom-up mechanisms induced by crossmodal interactions can automatically capture attention towards multisensory events, particularly when competition to focus elsewhere is relatively low. Conversely, top-down attention can facilitate the integration of multisensory inputs and lead to a spread of attention across sensory modalities. These findings point to a more intimate and multifaceted interplay between attention and multisensory integration than was previously thought. We review developments in the current understanding of the interactions between attention and multisensory processing, and propose a framework that unifies previous, apparently discordant, findings.

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    • "While task-relevance is one frequently studied form of top-down control over sensory processing, within (reviewed in Nobre and Kastner, 2014) and across the senses (e.g., Matusz et al., 2011, 2013; reviewed in Talsma et al., 2010; De Meo et al., 2015; Ten Oever et al., in revisions), an increasing number of studies points to similar importance of context-based influences. As demonstrated by traditional, unisensory studies, context influences range from predictions (Summerfield and Egner, 2009), through external and internal states (e.g., remembering something better in a place where one had learnt it), to fine-grained differences in stimulus features (e.g., the object's colour; Bar, 2004; Baddeley et al., 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Real-world environments are nearly always multisensory in nature. Processing in such situations confers perceptual advantages, but its automaticity remains poorly understood. Automaticity has been invoked to explain the activation of visual cortices by laterally-presented sounds. This has been observed even when the sounds were task-irrelevant and spatially uninformative about subsequent targets. An auditory-evoked contralateral occipital positivity (ACOP) at ~250ms post-sound onset has been postulated as the event-related potential (ERP) correlate of this cross-modal effect. However, the spatial dimension of the stimuli was nevertheless relevant in all prior studies where the ACOP was observed. By manipulating the implicit predictability of the location of lateralised sounds in a passive auditory paradigm, we tested the automaticity of cross-modal activations of visual cortices. 128-channel ERP data from healthy participants were analysed within an electrical neuroimaging framework. The timing, topography, and localisation resembled previous characterisations of the ACOP. However, the cross-modal activations of visual cortices by sounds were critically dependent on whether the sound location was (un)predictable. Our results are the first direct evidence that this particular cross-modal process is not (fully) automatic; instead, it is context-contingent. More generally, the present findings provide novel insights into the importance of context-related factors in controlling information processing across the senses, and call for a revision of current models of automaticity in cognitive sciences.
    NeuroImage 11/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.11.016 · 6.36 Impact Factor
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    • "Importantly, the current results point to the fact that incongruity does not necessarily trigger heightened top-down control. More broadly, the current study sheds new light on the ongoing debate regarding the influence of top-down control on multisensory processes [De Meo et al., 2015; Murray et al., 2015; van Atteveldt et al., 2014; Talsma et al., 2010; ten Oever et al., unpublished data]. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study analysed high-density event-related potentials (ERPs) within an electrical neuroimaging framework to provide insights regarding the interaction between multisensory processes and stimulus probabilities. Specifically, we identified the spatio-temporal brain mechanisms by which the proportion of temporally congruent and task-irrelevant auditory information influences stimulus processing during a visual duration discrimination task. The spatial position (top/bottom) of the visual stimulus was indicative of how frequently the visual and auditory stimuli would be congruent in their duration (i.e., context of congruence). Stronger influences of irrelevant sound were observed when contexts associated with a high proportion of auditory-visual congruence repeated and also when contexts associated with a low proportion of congruence switched. Context of congruence and context transition resulted in weaker brain responses at 228-257 ms post-stimulus to conditions giving rise to larger behavioural cross-modal interactions. Importantly, a control oddball task revealed that both congruent and incongruent audiovisual stimuli triggered equivalent non-linear multisensory interactions when congruence was not a relevant dimension. Collectively, these results are well explained by statistical learning, which links a particular context (here: a spatial location) with a certain level of top-down attentional control that further modulates cross-modal interactions based on whether a particular context repeated or changed. The current findings shed new light on the importance of context-based control over multisensory processing, whose influences multiplex across finer and broader time scales.
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    • "oe , 2001 , for an elegant experimental investigation of eye - movements distribution during everyday activities , and Causer et al . , 2013 , for a review ) . On a different note , one needs to acknowledge the contribution of the various sensory systems that contribute to goal - directed action ( Driver and Spence , 1998 ; Atkins et al . , 2001 ; Talsma et al . , 2010 ) . It would seem though that vision absorbs the majority of sensory processing capacity during the execution of the move - ment ( Brozzoli et al . , 2009 ) , since deficits in the other senses are reported during the execution period of a goal - directed action ( e . g . , tactile sensation is suppressed , Juravle et al . , 2010 ; see "
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    ABSTRACT: We report four experiments on the speed of people's reactions to sensory stimulation while throwing and catching a basketball. Thirty participants participated in Experiment 1, split according to basketball expertise: none, intermediate (6years on average), or advanced (20years or more). The participants had to catch a bouncing basketball. The movement triggered a short tactile pulse in a tactor attached to their wrist to which they made a speeded vocal response (RT). The pulse could be presented either at rest, at two time-points during the reaching movement, or when the hand reached forward to catch the ball. The results indicated that participants responded more rapidly to vibrations on the moving hand relative to preparing or catching the ball, with expert athletes responding significantly faster than novices. In a second experiment, participants made a speeded vocal response to an auditory signal. As in Experiment 1, faster auditory RTs were observed when the hand was moving, as compared to the other time-points. In a third study, the participants responded to a pulse delivered at their resting hand at various time-points corresponding to the average timings of stimulation in Experiment 1. The results revealed comparable RTs across the tested time-points. In a final experiment, the participants made a vocal response to a pulse presented at various time-points while they were throwing the basketball. The results indicated faster tactile RTs while the ball was being thrown. These results are discussed with reference to the literature on goal-directed movements and in terms of current theories of attention and sensory suppression.
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