Counting visual and tactile events: The effect of attention on multisensory integration
van Erp, J.B.F.
TNO Defensie en Veiligheid
Irrelevant events in one sensory modality can influence the number of events that are perceived in another modality. Previously, the underlying process of sensory integration was studied in conditions in which participants knew a priori which sensory modality was relevant and which was not. Consequently, (bottom-up) sensory interference and (top-down) selective attention were confounded. We disentangled these effects by measuring the influence of visual flashes on the number of tactile taps that were perceived, and vice versa, in two conditions. In the cue condition, participants were instructed on which modality to report before the bimodal stimulus was presented. In the no-cue condition, they were instructed after stimulus presentation. Participants reported the number of events that they perceived for bimodal combinations of one, two, or three flashes and one, two, or three taps. Our main findings were that (1) in no-cue conditions, the influence of vision on touch was stronger than was the influence of touch on vision; (2) in cue conditions, the integration effects were smaller than those in no-cue conditions; and (3) irrelevant taps were less easily ignored than were irrelevant flashes. This study disentangled previously confounded bottom-up and top-down effects: The bottom-up influence of vision on touch was stronger, but vision was also more easily suppressed by top-down selective attention. We have compared our results qualitatively and quantitatively with recently proposed sensory-integration models.
To reference this document use:
Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 1242 (8), 1854-1861