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J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1987 Aug;13(3):384-94.

On cross-modal similarity: auditory-visual interactions in speeded discrimination.

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John B. Pierce Foundation Laboratory, New Haven, Connecticut 06519.


A series of four experiments explored how cross-modal similarities between sensory attributes in vision and hearing reveal themselves in speeded, two-stimulus discrimination. When subjects responded differentially to stimuli on one modality, speed and accuracy of response were greater on trials accompanied by informationally irrelevant "matching" versus "mismatching" stimuli from the other modality. Cross-modal interactions appeared in (a) responses to dim/bright lights and to dark/light colors accompanied by low-pitched/high-pitched tones; (b) responses to low-pitched/high-pitched tones accompanied by dim/bright lights or by dark/light colors; (c) responses to dim/bright lights, but not to dark/light colors, accompanied by soft/loud sounds; and (d) responses to rounded/sharp forms accompanied by low-pitched/high-pitched tones. These results concur with findings on cross-modal perception, synesthesia, and synesthetic metaphor, which reveal similarities between pitch and brightness, pitch and lightness, loudness and brightness, and pitch and form. The cross-modal interactions in response speed and accuracy may take place at a sensory/perceptual level of processing or after sensory stimuli are encoded semantically.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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