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Dev Sci. 2006 Sep;9(5):454-64.

Development of multisensory spatial integration and perception in humans.

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1
Computation and Neural Systems Department, California Institute of Technology, USA. gwenhyvhar@earthlink.net

Abstract

Previous studies have shown that adults respond faster and more reliably to bimodal compared to unimodal localization cues. The current study investigated for the first time the development of audiovisual (A-V) integration in spatial localization behavior in infants between 1 and 10 months of age. We observed infants' head and eye movements in response to auditory, visual, or both kinds of stimuli presented either 25 degrees or 45 degrees to the right or left of midline. Infants under 8 months of age intermittently showed response latencies significantly faster toward audiovisual targets than toward either auditory or visual targets alone They did so, however, without exhibiting a reliable violation of the Race Model, suggesting that probability summation alone could explain the faster bimodal response. In contrast, infants between 8 and 10 months of age exhibited bimodal response latencies significantly faster than unimodal latencies for both eccentricity conditions and their latencies violated the Race Model at 25 degrees eccentricity. In addition to this main finding, we found age-dependent eccentricity and modality effects on response latencies. Together, these findings suggest that audiovisual integration emerges late in the first year of life and are consistent with neurophysiological findings from multisensory sites in the superior colliculus of infant monkeys showing that multisensory enhancement of responsiveness is not present at birth but emerges later in life.

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