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PLoS Biol. 2006 Oct;4(10):e326.

Implicit multisensory associations influence voice recognition.

Author information

  • 1Department of Neurology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. kkriegs@fil.ion.ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

Natural objects provide partially redundant information to the brain through different sensory modalities. For example, voices and faces both give information about the speech content, age, and gender of a person. Thanks to this redundancy, multimodal recognition is fast, robust, and automatic. In unimodal perception, however, only part of the information about an object is available. Here, we addressed whether, even under conditions of unimodal sensory input, crossmodal neural circuits that have been shaped by previous associative learning become activated and underpin a performance benefit. We measured brain activity with functional magnetic resonance imaging before, while, and after participants learned to associate either sensory redundant stimuli, i.e. voices and faces, or arbitrary multimodal combinations, i.e. voices and written names, ring tones, and cell phones or brand names of these cell phones. After learning, participants were better at recognizing unimodal auditory voices that had been paired with faces than those paired with written names, and association of voices with faces resulted in an increased functional coupling between voice and face areas. No such effects were observed for ring tones that had been paired with cell phones or names. These findings demonstrate that brief exposure to ecologically valid and sensory redundant stimulus pairs, such as voices and faces, induces specific multisensory associations. Consistent with predictive coding theories, associative representations become thereafter available for unimodal perception and facilitate object recognition. These data suggest that for natural objects effective predictive signals can be generated across sensory systems and proceed by optimization of functional connectivity between specialized cortical sensory modules.

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PMID:
17002519
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1570760
Free PMC Article
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