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Temporal ventriloquism in a purely temporal context


Hartcher-O'Brien,  J
Research Group Multisensory Perception and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Hartcher-O'Brien, J. (2011). Temporal ventriloquism in a purely temporal context. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 37(5), 1383-1395. doi:10.1037/a0024234.

This study examines how audiovisual signals are combined in time for a temporal analogue of the ventriloquist effect in a purely temporal context, that is, no spatial grounding of signals or other spatial facilitation. Observers were presented with two successive intervals, each defined by a 1250-ms tone, and indicated in which interval a brief audiovisual stimulus (visual flash + noise burst) occurred later. In “test“ intervals, the audiovisual stimulus was presented with a small asynchrony, while in “probe” intervals it was synchronous and presented at various times guided by an adaptive staircase to find the perceived temporal location of the asynchronous stimulus. As in spatial ventriloquism, and consistent with maximum likelihood estimation (MLE), the asynchronous audiovisual signal was shifted toward the more reliably localized component (audition, for all observers). Moreover, these temporal shifts could be forward or backward in time, depending on the asynchrony order, suggesting perceived timing is not entirely determined by physical timing. However, the critical signature of MLE combination—better bimodal than unimodal precision—was not found. Regardless of the underlying model, these results demonstrate temporal ventriloquism in a paradigm that is defined in a purely temporal context.