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Journal Article

Multisensory integration: From fundamental principles to translational research


Noppeney,  U
Research Group Cognitive Neuroimaging, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Meyer, G., & Noppeney, U. (2011). Multisensory integration: From fundamental principles to translational research. Experimental Brain Research, 213(2-3), 163-166. doi:10.1007/s00221-011-2803-z.

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We perceive our natural environment via multiple senses. How does our mind and brain integrate these diverse sensory inputs into a coherent and unified percept? This challenging and exciting question has been the focus of a growing multidisciplinary community of researchers that meet regularly at the annual meeting of the International Multisensory Research Forum (IMRF). The IMRF meeting brings together researchers that investigate multisensory integration at multiple levels of description ranging from neurophysiology to behaviour, with research interests from theory to applications. Traditionally, multisensory research has focused on the characterization of the fundamental principles and constraints that govern multisensory integration. Research has then moved forward to address questions of how multisensory integration emerges during development and may be perturbed in cases of disease or ageing. In the long-term, multisensory research will have direct impact in translational studies investigating the benefits of a multisensory environment for patients that are impaired when presented with information in one sensory modality alone. Obviously, this myriad of research topics can only be addressed by combining findings from a multitude of methods including psychophysics, neurophysiology and non-invasive structural and functional imaging in humans. Further, since its inception multisensory research has constantly gained impetus from computational models. Computational models contribute substantially to the progress made in multisensory research by providing a deeper understanding of the current empirical findings and conversely making predictions that guide future research. Most prominently, the normative Bayesian perspective continues to inspire inquiries into the optimality of multisensory integration across various species. This special issue on multisensory processing has resulted from the IMRF meeting held at Liverpool University in 2010. In accordance with previous procedures, the call for papers was not restricted to meeting attendees but was open to the entire multisensory community. As has been the tradition since the first special IMRF issue, we received a large number of high quality submissions leading to strong competition. Many excellent submissions had to be rejected or transferred to other special issues because of space limitations. Nevertheless, we hope that the collection of manuscripts included in this special issue will provide a rich source of reference for the wider multisensory community. Given the multidisciplinarity of the IMRF community, the submitted manuscripts cover a range of the topics that have briefly been highlighted above. For coarse reference, we have grouped the manuscripts into five sections.