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Vis Neurosci. 2009 Nov;26(5-6):477-86. doi: 10.1017/S0952523809990289.

Sounds can affect visual perception mediated primarily by the parvocellular pathway.

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Centre for Vision Research, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


We investigated the effect of auditory-visual sensory integration on visual tasks that were predominantly dependent on parvocellular processing. These tasks were (i) detecting metacontrast-masked targets and (ii) discriminating orientation differences between high spatial frequency Gabor patch stimuli. Sounds that contained no information relevant to either task were presented before, synchronized with, or after the visual targets, and the results were compared to conditions with no sound. Both tasks used a two-alternative forced choice technique. For detecting metacontrast-masked targets, one interval contained the visual target and both (or neither) intervals contained a sound. Sound-target synchrony within 50 ms lowered luminance thresholds for detecting the presence of a target compared to when no sound occurred or when sound onset preceded target onset. Threshold angles for discriminating the orientation of a Gabor patch consistently increased in the presence of a sound. These results are compatible with sound-induced activity in the parvocellular visual pathway increasing the visibility of flashed targets and hindering orientation discrimination.

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