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Exp Brain Res. 2013 Jun;227(2):249-61. doi: 10.1007/s00221-013-3507-3. Epub 2013 Apr 21.

Multisensory temporal integration: task and stimulus dependencies.

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Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 7110 MRB III BioSci Bldg 465, 21st Ave South, Nashville, TN 37232, USA.


The ability of human sensory systems to integrate information across the different modalities provides a wide range of behavioral and perceptual benefits. This integration process is dependent upon the temporal relationship of the different sensory signals, with stimuli occurring close together in time typically resulting in the largest behavior changes. The range of temporal intervals over which such benefits are seen is typically referred to as the temporal binding window (TBW). Given the importance of temporal factors in multisensory integration under both normal and atypical circumstances such as autism and dyslexia, the TBW has been measured with a variety of experimental protocols that differ according to criterion, task, and stimulus type, making comparisons across experiments difficult. In the current study, we attempt to elucidate the role that these various factors play in the measurement of this important construct. The results show a strong effect of stimulus type, with the TBW assessed with speech stimuli being both larger and more symmetrical than that seen using simple and complex non-speech stimuli. These effects are robust across task and statistical criteria and are highly consistent within individuals, suggesting substantial overlap in the neural and cognitive operations that govern multisensory temporal processes.

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