Visual-auditory events: Cross-modal perceptual priming and recognition memory

Consciousness and Cognition 10 (3):425-435 (2001)
Abstract
Modality specificity in priming is taken as evidence for independent perceptual systems. However, Easton, Greene, and Srinivas (1997) showed that visual and haptic cross-modal priming is comparable in magnitude to within-modal priming. Where appropriate, perceptual systems might share like information. To test this, we assessed priming and recognition for visual and auditory events, within- and across- modalities. On the visual test, auditory study resulted in no priming. On the auditory priming test, visual study resulted in priming that was only marginally less than within-modal priming. The priming results show that visual study facilitates identification on both visual and auditory tests, but auditory study only facilitates performance on the auditory test. For both recognition tests, within-modal recognition exceeded cross-modal recognition. The results have two novel implications for the understanding of perceptual priming: First, we introduce visual and auditory priming for spatio-temporal events as a new priming paradigm chosen for its ecological validity and potential for information exchange. Second, we propose that the asymmetry of the cross-modal priming observed here may reflect the capacity of these perceptual modalities to provide cross-modal constraints on ambiguity. We argue that visual perception might inform and constrain auditory processing, while auditory perception corresponds to too many potential visual events to usefully inform and constrain visual perception.
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