Distinct neural mechanisms and temporal constraints govern a cascade of audiotactile interactions

Johanna M Zumer, Thomas P White, Uta Noppeney

Research output: Preprint or Working paperPreprint


Synchrony is a crucial cue indicating whether sensory signals are caused by single or independent sources. In order to be integrated and produce multisensory behavioural benefits, signals must co-occur within a temporal integration window (TIW). Yet, the underlying neural determinants and mechanisms of integration across asynchronies remain unclear. This psychophysics and electroencephalography study investigated the temporal constraints of behavioural response facilitation and neural interactions for evoked response potentials (ERP), inter-trial coherence (ITC), and time-frequency (TF) power. Participants were presented with noise bursts, ‘taps to the face’, and their audiotactile (AT) combinations at seven asynchronies: 0, ±20, ±70, and ±500 ms. Behaviourally we observed an inverted U-shape function for AT response facilitation, which was maximal for synchronous AT stimulation and declined within a ≤70 ms TIW. For ERPs, we observed AT interactions at 110 ms for near-synchronous stimuli within a ≤20 ms TIW and at 400 ms within a ≤70 ms TIW consistent with behavioural response facilitation. By contrast, AT interactions for theta ITC and ERPs at 200 ms post-stimulus were selective for ±70 ms asynchrony, potentially mediated via phase resetting. Finally, interactions for induced theta power and alpha/beta power rebound emerged at 800-1100 ms across several asynchronies including even 500 ms auditory leading asynchrony. In sum, we observed neural interactions that were confined to or extending beyond the behavioural TIW or specific for ±70 ms asynchrony. This diversity of temporal profiles and constraints demonstrates that multisensory integration unfolds in a cascade of interactions that are governed by distinct neural mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted bioRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. It is made available under a CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license.

Funding: FP7 ERC Starting Grant multsens (U.N.) and FP7 Marie Curie IntraEuropean Fellowship ISMINO (J.M.Z. and U.N.). We thank Christoph Braun and Elisa Leonardelli for assistance with the tactile device and Mate Aller for assistance with EEG and stimulus setup.


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