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J Neurosci. 2010 Mar 3;30(9):3370-9. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5074-09.2010.

Audiovisual functional magnetic resonance imaging adaptation reveals multisensory integration effects in object-related sensory cortices.

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  • 1Institute of Medical Psychology, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


Information integration across different sensory modalities contributes to object recognition, the generation of associations and long-term memory representations. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging adaptation to investigate the presence of sensory integrative effects at cortical levels as early as nonprimary auditory and extrastriate visual cortices, which are implicated in intermediate stages of object processing. Stimulation consisted of an adapting audiovisual stimulus S(1) and a subsequent stimulus S(2) from the same basic-level category (e.g., cat). The stimuli were carefully balanced with respect to stimulus complexity and semantic congruency and presented in four experimental conditions: (1) the same image and vocalization for S(1) and S(2), (2) the same image and a different vocalization, (3) different images and the same vocalization, or (4) different images and vocalizations. This two-by-two factorial design allowed us to assess the contributions of auditory and visual stimulus repetitions and changes in a statistically orthogonal manner. Responses in visual regions of right fusiform gyrus and right lateral occipital cortex were reduced for repeated visual stimuli (repetition suppression). Surprisingly, left lateral occipital cortex showed stronger responses to repeated auditory stimuli (repetition enhancement). Similarly, auditory regions of interest of the right middle superior temporal gyrus and sulcus exhibited repetition suppression to auditory repetitions and repetition enhancement to visual repetitions. Our findings of crossmodal repetition-related effects in cortices of the respective other sensory modality add to the emerging view that in human subjects sensory integrative mechanisms operate on earlier cortical processing levels than previously assumed.

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