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Conscious Cogn. 2017 Mar;49:15-24. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2016.12.009. Epub 2017 Jan 13.

A deafening flash! Visual interference of auditory signal detection.

Author information

1
Cognitive Neuroscience Research Unit, Department of Psychology, City, University of London, London, UK.
2
Neuroscience Masters Programme, King's College London, UK.
3
Cognitive Neuroscience Research Unit, Department of Psychology, City, University of London, London, UK. Electronic address: elliot.freeman@city.ac.uk.

Abstract

In some people, visual stimulation evokes auditory sensations. How prevalent and how perceptually real is this? 22% of our neurotypical adult participants responded 'Yes' when asked whether they heard faint sounds accompanying flash stimuli, and showed significantly better ability to discriminate visual 'Morse-code' sequences. This benefit might arise from an ability to recode visual signals as sounds, thus taking advantage of superior temporal acuity of audition. In support of this, those who showed better visual relative to auditory sequence discrimination also had poorer auditory detection in the presence of uninformative visual flashes, though this was independent of awareness of visually-evoked sounds. Thus a visually-evoked auditory representation may occur subliminally and disrupt detection of real auditory signals. The frequent natural correlation between visual and auditory stimuli might explain the surprising prevalence of this phenomenon. Overall, our results suggest that learned correspondences between strongly correlated modalities may provide a precursor for some synaesthetic abilities.

KEYWORDS:

Audiovisual integration; Individual differences; Perception; Psychophysics; Synaesthesia

PMID:
28092861
DOI:
10.1016/j.concog.2016.12.009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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