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Multisensory integration

We are constantly bombarded by sensory information from our environment. By binding together information from the different senses we can better understand the world around us. For example, at a noisy party we watch the lips of the person speaking to us to help understand what they are saying. We are most likely to integrate information from two different senses when they are close in space and time, for example it is hard to separate the sight and tactile sensation of an insect landing on your hand. There are a number of behavioural tests we can use to measure such phenomena in the laboratory. By asking participants to make judgments about vibrations presented to their hand, whilst ignoring distracting lights, we find that lights presented close to their hand are more distracting than those presented far from the hand. This indicates that integration between the senses is stronger for stimuli presented at the same location in space. However, we have observed that this spatial specificity was affected by ageing: in older adults, lights were equally distracting regardless of their location. This suggests that ageing affects multisensory integration and the representation of space, which we are currently following up.

Example publications

Couth S, Gowen E, Poliakoff E. (2016) Investigating the spatial and temporal modulation of visuotactile interactions in older adults. Exp Brain Res. 234(5):1233-48.

Poole. D, Couth. S, Gowen. E, Warren. P.A, Poliakoff. E (2015) Adapting the Crossmodal Congruency Task for Measuring the Limits of Visual–Tactile Interactions Within and Between Groups. Multisensory Research, 28 (3-4), 127-144

Poliakoff E, Ashworth S, Lowe C, Spence C. (2006). Vision and touch in ageing: Crossmodal selective attention and visuotactile spatial interactions. Neuropsychologia, 44, 507-517.

Specific Project

Investigating the effects of ageing on multisensory integration.