The Duration of a Co-Occurring Sound Modulates Visual Detection Performance in Humans

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Background: The duration of sounds can affect the perceived duration of co-occurring visual stimuli. However, it is unclear whether this is limited to amodal processes of duration perception or affects other non-temporal qualities of visual perception. Methodology/Principal Findings: Here, we tested the hypothesis that visual sensitivity - rather than only the perceived duration of visual stimuli - can be affected by the duration of co-occurring sounds. We found that visual detection sensitivity (d') for unimodal stimuli was higher for stimuli of longer duration. Crucially, in a cross-modal condition, we replicated previous unimodal findings, observing that visual sensitivity was shaped by the duration of co-occurring sounds. When short visual stimuli (~24 ms) were accompanied by sounds of matching duration, visual sensitivity was decreased relative to the unimodal visual condition. However, when the same visual stimuli were accompanied by longer auditory stimuli (~60-96 ms), visual sensitivity was increased relative to the performance for ~24 ms auditory stimuli. Across participants, this sensitivity enhancement was observed within a critical time window of ~60-96 ms. Moreover, the amplitude of this effect correlated with visual sensitivity enhancement found for longer lasting visual stimuli across participants. Conclusions/Significance: Our findings show that the duration of co-occurring sounds affects visual perception; it changes visual sensitivity in a similar way as altering the (actual) duration of the visual stimuli does. © 2013 de Haas et al.




de Haas, B., Cecere, R., Cullen, H., Driver, J., & Romei, V. (2013). The Duration of a Co-Occurring Sound Modulates Visual Detection Performance in Humans. PLoS ONE, 8(1).

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