Visually induced plasticity of auditory spatial perception in macaques

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Abstract

When experiencing spatially disparate visual and auditory stimuli, a common percept is that the sound originates from the location of the visual stimulus, an illusion known as the ventriloquism effect [1]. This illusion can persist for tens of minutes, a phenomenon termed the ventriloquism aftereffect [2-5]. The underlying neuronal mechanisms of this rapidly induced plasticity remain unclear; indeed, it remains untested whether similar multimodal interactions occur in other species. We therefore tested whether macaque monkeys experience the ventriloquism aftereffect similar to the way humans do. The ability of two monkeys to determine which side of the midline a sound was presented from was tested before and after a period of 20-60 min in which the monkeys experienced either spatially identical or spatially disparate auditory and visual stimuli. In agreement with human studies, the monkeys did experience a shift in their auditory spatial perception in the direction of the spatially disparate visual stimulus, and the aftereffect did not transfer across sounds that differed in frequency by two octaves. These results show that macaque monkeys experience the ventriloquism aftereffect similar to the way humans do in all tested respects, indicating that these multimodal interactions are a basic phenomenon of the central nervous system.

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Woods, T. M., & Recanzone, G. H. (2004). Visually induced plasticity of auditory spatial perception in macaques. Current Biology, 14(17), 1559–1564. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2004.08.059

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