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J Neurosci. 2011 Jun 1;31(22):7982-90. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5298-10.2011.

The cross-modal spread of attention reveals differential constraints for the temporal and spatial linking of visual and auditory stimulus events.

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Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708-0999, USA.


The integration of multisensory information has been shown to be guided by spatial and temporal proximity, as well as to be influenced by attention. Here we used neural measures of the multisensory spread of attention to investigate the spatial and temporal linking of synchronous versus near-synchronous auditory and visual events. Human participants attended selectively to one of two lateralized visual-stimulus streams while task-irrelevant tones were presented centrally. Electrophysiological measures of brain activity showed that tones occurring simultaneously or delayed by 100 ms were temporally linked to an attended visual stimulus, as reflected by robust cross-modal spreading-of-attention activity, but not when delayed by 300 ms. The neural data also indicated a ventriloquist-like spatial linking of the auditory to the attended visual stimuli, but only when occurring simultaneously. These neurophysiological results thus provide unique insight into the temporal and spatial principles of multisensory feature integration and the fundamental role attention plays in such integration.

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