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Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Dec 13;7:863. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00863.

Multisensory integration mechanisms during aging.

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Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology, RWTH Aachen University Aachen, Germany.
Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute Stockholm, Sweden ; Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia PA, USA ; Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics, RWTH Aachen University Aachen, Germany ; JARA BRAIN - Translational Brain Medicine, RWTH Aachen University Aachen, Germany.
JARA BRAIN - Translational Brain Medicine, RWTH Aachen University Aachen, Germany ; Department of Neurology, RWTH Aachen University Aachen, Germany ; Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-4), Research Center Jülich, Jülich Germany.


The rapid demographical shift occurring in our society implies that understanding of healthy aging and age-related diseases is one of our major future challenges. Sensory impairments have an enormous impact on our lives and are closely linked to cognitive functioning. Due to the inherent complexity of sensory perceptions, we are commonly presented with a complex multisensory stimulation and the brain integrates the information from the individual sensory channels into a unique and holistic percept. The cerebral processes involved are essential for our perception of sensory stimuli and becomes especially important during the perception of emotional content. Despite ongoing deterioration of the individual sensory systems during aging, there is evidence for an increase in, or maintenance of, multisensory integration processing in aging individuals. Within this comprehensive literature review on multisensory integration we aim to highlight basic mechanisms and potential compensatory strategies the human brain utilizes to help maintain multisensory integration capabilities during healthy aging to facilitate a broader understanding of age-related pathological conditions. Further our goal was to identify where further research is needed.


aging neuroscience; cognition; crossmodal sensory integration; elderly population; multimodal; multisensory integration

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