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J Vis. 2012 Oct 3;12(11). pii: 2. doi: 10.1167/12.11.2. Print 2012.

Static sound timing alters sensitivity to low-level visual motion.

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Vision Center Laboratory, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA, USA.


Visual motion processing is essential to survival in a dynamic world and is probably the best-studied facet of visual perception. It has been recently discovered that the timing of brief static sounds can bias visual motion perception, an effect attributed to "temporal ventriloquism" whereby the timing of the sounds "captures" the timing of the visual events. To determine whether this cross-modal interaction is dependent on the involvement of higher-order attentive tracking mechanisms, we used near-threshold motion stimuli that isolated low-level pre-attentive visual motion processing. We found that the timing of brief sounds altered sensitivity to these visual motion stimuli in a manner that paralleled changes in the timing of the visual stimuli. Our findings indicate that auditory timing impacts visual motion processing very early in the processing hierarchy and without the involvement of higher-order attentional and/or position tracking mechanisms.

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