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J Neurosci. 2010 Feb 17;30(7):2414-7. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4865-09.2010.

fMRI-Guided transcranial magnetic stimulation reveals that the superior temporal sulcus is a cortical locus of the McGurk effect.

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Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


A compelling example of auditory-visual multisensory integration is the McGurk effect, in which an auditory syllable is perceived very differently depending on whether it is accompanied by a visual movie of a speaker pronouncing the same syllable or a different, incongruent syllable. Anatomical and physiological studies in human and nonhuman primates have suggested that the superior temporal sulcus (STS) is involved in auditory-visual integration for both speech and nonspeech stimuli. We hypothesized that the STS plays a critical role in the creation of the McGurk percept. Because the location of multisensory integration in the STS varies from subject to subject, the location of auditory-visual speech processing in the STS was first identified in each subject with fMRI. Then, activity in this region of the STS was disrupted with single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) as subjects rated their percept of McGurk and non-McGurk stimuli. Across three experiments, TMS of the STS significantly reduced the likelihood of the McGurk percept but did not interfere with perception of non-McGurk stimuli. TMS of the STS was effective at disrupting the McGurk effect only in a narrow temporal window from 100 ms before auditory syllable onset to 100 ms after onset, and TMS of a control location did not influence perception of McGurk or control stimuli. These results demonstrate that the STS plays a critical role in the McGurk effect and auditory-visual integration of speech.

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