Integration of Touch and Sound in Auditory Cortex

Abstract

To form a coherent percept of the environment, our brain combines information from different senses. Such multisensory integration occurs in higher association cortices; but supposedly, it also occurs in early sensory areas. Confirming the latter hypothesis, we unequivocally demonstrate supra-additive integration of touch and sound stimulation at the second stage of the auditory cortex. Using high-resolution fMRI of the macaque monkey, we quantified the integration of auditory broad-band noise and tactile stimulation of hand and foot in anaesthetized animals. Integration was found posterior to and along the lateral side of the primary auditory cortex in the caudal auditory belt. Integration was stronger for temporally coincident stimuli and obeyed the principle of inverse effectiveness: greater enhancement for less effective stimuli. These findings demonstrates that multisensory integration occurs early and close to primary sensory areas and—because it occurs in anaesthetized animals—suggests that this integration is mediated by preattentive bottom-up mechanisms.

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