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Psychol Sci. 2012 Jan 1;23(1):6-12. doi: 10.1177/0956797611420662. Epub 2011 Nov 29.

0 + 1 > 1: How adding noninformative sound improves performance on a visual task.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563, USA.


It is well known that the nervous system combines information from different cues within and across sensory modalities to improve performance on perceptual tasks. In this article, we present results showing that in a visual motion-detection task, concurrent auditory motion stimuli improve accuracy even when they do not provide any useful information for the task. When participants judged which of two stimulus intervals contained visual coherent motion, the addition of identical moving sounds to both intervals improved accuracy. However, this enhancement occurred only with sounds that moved in the same direction as the visual motion. Therefore, it appears that the observed benefit of auditory stimulation is due to auditory-visual interactions at a sensory level. Thus, auditory and visual motion-processing pathways interact at a sensory-representation level in addition to the level at which perceptual estimates are combined.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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