Audiovisual contrast enhancement is articulated primarily via the M-pathway

TitleAudiovisual contrast enhancement is articulated primarily via the M-pathway
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsJaekl P, Soto-Faraco S
JournalBrain Research
Date Publisheddec
KeywordsAcoustical Vision, Audiovisual, Contrast Sensitivity, Detection, Ganglion-cells, Human Brain, Magnocellular Pathway, Multimodal Integration, multisensory, multisensory integration, Parvocellular Pathway, Perceptual Enhancement, Superior Colliculus, Temporal Cortex, Visual-perception

Although it has been previously reported that audiovisual integration can modulate performance on some visual tasks, multisensory interactions have not been explicitly assessed in the context of different visual processing pathways. In the present study, we test auditory influences on visual processing employing a psychophysical paradigm that reveals distinct spatial contrast signatures of magnocellular and parvocellular visual pathways. We found that contrast thresholds are reduced when noninformative sounds are presented with transient, low-frequency Gabor patch stimuli and thus favor the M-system. In contrast, visual thresholds are unaffected by concurrent sounds when detection is primarily attributed to P-pathway processing. These results demonstrate that the visual detection enhancement resulting from multisensory integration is mainly articulated by the magnocellular system, which is most sensitive at low spatial frequencies. Such enhancement may subserve stimulus-driven processes including the orientation of spatial attention and fast, automatic ocular and motor responses. This dissociation helps explain discrepancies between the results of previous studies investigating visual enhancement by sounds.