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J Neurosci. 2007 Jul 25;27(30):7881-7.

Object familiarity and semantic congruency modulate responses in cortical audiovisual integration areas.

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Cognitive Neurology Unit, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University, D-60528 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


The cortical integration of auditory and visual features is crucial for efficient object recognition. Previous studies have shown that audiovisual (AV) integration is affected by where and when auditory and visual features occur. However, because relatively little is known about the impact of what is integrated, we here investigated the impact of semantic congruency and object familiarity on the neural correlates of AV integration. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to identify regions involved in the integration of both (congruent and incongruent) familiar animal sounds and images and of arbitrary combinations of unfamiliar artificial sounds and object images. Unfamiliar object images and sounds were integrated in the inferior frontal cortex (IFC), possibly reflecting learning of novel AV associations. Integration of familiar, but semantically incongruent combinations also correlated with IFC activation and additionally involved the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS). For highly familiar semantically congruent AV pairings, we again found AV integration effects in pSTS and additionally in superior temporal gyrus. These findings demonstrate that the neural correlates of object-related AV integration reflect both semantic congruency and familiarity of the integrated sounds and images.

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