Multisensory Integration and Calibration in Adults and in Children

David Burr, Paola Binda and Monica Gori

in Sensory Cue Integration

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780195387247
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918379 | DOI:

Series: Computational Neuroscience Series

Multisensory Integration and Calibration in Adults and in Children

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This chapter discusses recent experiments on cross-sensory integration and calibration. It first gives a clear example of sensory integration of visual and auditory signals (the “ventriloquist effect”) under conditions where audiovisual conflict is introduced artificially and when it is introduced by more natural means, for example, saccadic eye movements. The results build on many others to show that audiovisual spatial and temporal information is integrated in an optimal manner, where optimality is defined as maximizing precision. However, young children do not show optimal integration (of visual and haptic information); before eight years of age, one or the other sense prevails: touch for size, and vision for orientation discrimination. The sensory domination may reflect cross-modal calibration of vision and touch. Touch does not always calibrate vision, but the more robust, and hence more accurate calibrates the other: touch for size, but vision for orientation. This hypothesis is supported by measurements of haptic discrimination in nonsighted children. Haptic orientation thresholds were greatly impaired compared with age-matched controls, whereas haptic size thresholds were at least as good, and often better. The impairment in haptic orientation discrimination results from disruption of cross-modal calibration.

Keywords: cross-sensory integration; cross-sensory calibration; ventriloquist effect; visual information; haptic orientation discrimination; children; sensory discrimination

Chapter.  11622 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuropsychology

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