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J Exp Psychol Gen. 2019 Jul;148(7):1124-1137. doi: 10.1037/xge0000513. Epub 2018 Oct 18.

Multisensory perceptual interactions between higher-order temporal frequency signals.

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Department of Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine.
Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Rice University.


Naturally occurring signals in audition and touch can be complex and marked by temporal variations in frequency and amplitude. Auditory frequency sweep processing has been studied extensively; however, much less is known about sweep processing in touch because studies have primarily focused on the perception of simple sinusoidal vibrations. Given the extensive interactions between audition and touch in the frequency processing of pure tone signals, we reasoned that these senses might also interact in the processing of higher-order frequency representations like sweeps. In a series of psychophysical experiments, we characterized the influence of auditory distractors on the ability of participants to discriminate tactile frequency sweeps. Auditory frequency sweeps systematically biased the tactile perception of sweep direction. Importantly, auditory cues exerted little influence on tactile sweep direction perception when the sounds and vibrations occupied different absolute frequency ranges or when the sounds consisted of intensity sweeps. Thus, audition and touch interact in frequency sweep perception in a frequency- and feature-specific manner. Our results demonstrate that audio-tactile interactions are not constrained to the processing of simple sinusoids. Because higher-order frequency representations may be synthesized from simpler representations, our findings imply that multisensory interactions in the temporal frequency domain span multiple hierarchical levels in sensory processing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

[Available on 2020-07-01]

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