Santa Lucia - Neurosciences and Rehabilitation Sapienza University of Rome

Cogn Neurodyn. 2012 Oct;6(5):409-19. doi: 10.1007/s11571-012-9197-x. Epub 2012 Mar 20

Dynamic characteristics of multisensory facilitation and inhibition

Multimodal integration, which mainly refers to multisensory facilitation and multisensory inhibition, is the process of merging multisensory information in the human brain. However, the neural mechanisms underlying the dynamic characteristics of multimodal integration are not fully understood. The objective of this study is to investigate the basic mechanisms of multimodal integration by assessing the intermodal influences of vision, audition, and somatosensory sensations (the influence of multisensory background events to the target event). We used a timed target detection task, and measured both behavioral and electroencephalographic responses to visual target events (green solid circle), auditory target events (2 kHz pure tone) and somatosensory target events (1.5 ± 0.1 mA square wave pulse) from 20 normal participants. There were significant differences in both behavior performance and ERP components when comparing the unimodal target stimuli with multimodal (bimodal and trimodal) target stimuli for all target groups. Significant correlation among reaction time and P3 latency was observed across all target conditions. The perceptual processing of auditory target events (A) was inhibited by the background events, while the perceptual processing of somatosensory target events (S) was facilitated by the background events. In contrast, the perceptual processing of visual target events (V) remained impervious to multisensory background events.

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