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Adaptation to audiovisual asynchrony modulates the speeded detection of sound


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

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Navarra, J., Hartcher-O‘Brien, J., Piazza, E., & Spence, C. (2009). Adaptation to audiovisual asynchrony modulates the speeded detection of sound. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 106(23), 9169-9173. doi:10.1073/pnas.0810486106.

The brain adapts to asynchronous audiovisual signals by reducing the subjective temporal lag between them. However, it is currently unclear which sensory signal (visual or auditory) shifts toward the other. According to the idea that the auditory system codes temporal information more precisely than the visual system, one should expect to find some temporal shift of vision toward audition (as in the temporal ventriloquism effect) as a result of adaptation to asynchronous audiovisual signals. Given that visual information gives a more exact estimate of the time of occurrence of distal events than auditory information (due to the fact that the time of arrival of visual information regarding an external event is always closer to the time at which this event occurred), the opposite result could also be expected. Here, we demonstrate that participants’ speeded reaction times (RTs) to auditory (but, critically, not visual) stimuli are altered following adaptation to asynchronous audiovisual stimuli. After receiving ‘‘baseline’’ exposure to synchrony, participants were exposed either to auditory-lagging asynchrony (VA group) or to auditory-leading asynchrony (AV group). The results revealed that RTs to sounds became progressively faster (in the VA group) or slower (in the AV group) as participants’ exposure to asynchrony increased, thus providing empirical evidence that speeded responses to sounds are influenced by exposure to audiovisual asynchrony.