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Front Syst Neurosci. 2013 Nov 8;7:81. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2013.00081. eCollection 2013.

Convergent approaches toward the study of multisensory perception.

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Department of Anatomy, Cell Biology and Physiology, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine Spartanburg, SC, USA.


Classical analytical approaches for examining multisensory processing in individual neurons have relied heavily on changes in mean firing rate to assess the presence and magnitude of multisensory interaction. However, neurophysiological studies within individual sensory systems have illustrated that important sensory and perceptual information is encoded in forms that go beyond these traditional spike-based measures. Here we review analytical tools as they are used within individual sensory systems (auditory, somatosensory, and visual) to advance our understanding of how sensory cues are effectively integrated across modalities (e.g., audiovisual cues facilitating speech processing). Specifically, we discuss how methods used to assess response variability (Fano factor, or FF), local field potentials (LFPs), current source density (CSD), oscillatory coherence, spike synchrony, and receiver operating characteristics (ROC) represent particularly promising tools for understanding the neural encoding of multisensory stimulus features. The utility of each approach and how it might optimally be applied toward understanding multisensory processing is placed within the context of exciting new data that is just beginning to be generated. Finally, we address how underlying encoding mechanisms might shape-and be tested alongside with-the known behavioral and perceptual benefits that accompany multisensory processing.


electrophysiology; multisensory; oscillations; receiver operating characteristics; spike synchrony

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