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J Physiol Paris. 2004 Jan-Jun;98(1-3):191-205.

Multisensory integration: methodological approaches and emerging principles in the human brain.

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University Laboratory of Physiology, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PT, UK.


Understanding the conditions under which the brain integrates the different sensory streams and the mechanisms supporting this phenomenon is now a question at the forefront of neuroscience. In this paper, we discuss the opportunities for investigating these multisensory processes using modern imaging techniques, the nature of the information obtainable from each method and their benefits and limitations. Despite considerable variability in terms of paradigm design and analysis, some consistent findings are beginning to emerge. The detection of brain activity in human neuroimaging studies that resembles multisensory integration responses at the cellular level in other species, suggests similar crossmodal binding mechanisms may be operational in the human brain. These mechanisms appear to be distributed across distinct neuronal networks that vary depending on the nature of the shared information between different sensory cues. For example, differing extents of correspondence in time, space or content seem to reliably bias the involvement of different integrative networks which code for these cues. A combination of data obtained from haemodynamic and electromagnetic methods, which offer high spatial or temporal resolution respectively, are providing converging evidence of multisensory interactions at both "early" and "late" stages of processing--suggesting a cascade of synergistic processes operating in parallel at different levels of the cortex.

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