Acoustic facilitation of object movement detection during self-motion

TitleAcoustic facilitation of object movement detection during self-motion
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsCalabro F, Soto-Faraco S, Vaina LM
JournalProceedings of the Royal Academy of Sciences B
Date Published09/2011
KeywordsAuditory motion, Flow parsing, Multisensory perception, Visual motion, Visual search

In humans, as well as most animal species, perception of object motion is critical to successful interaction with the surrounding environment. Yet, as the observer also moves, the retinal projections of the various motion components add to each other and extracting accurate object motion becomes computationally challenging. Recent psychophysical studies have demonstrated that observers use a flow-parsing mechanism to estimate and subtract self-motion from the optic flow field. We investigated whether concurrent acoustic cues for motion can facilitate visual flow parsing, thereby enhancing the detection of moving objects during simulated self-motion. Participants identified an object (the target) that moved either forward or backward within a visual scene containing nine identical textured objects simulating forward observer translation. We found that spatially co-localized, directionally congruent, moving auditory stimuli enhanced object motion detection. Interestingly, subjects who performed poorly on the visual-only task benefited more from the addition of moving auditory stimuli. When auditory stimuli were not co-localized to the visual target, improvements in detection rates were weak. Taken together, these results suggest that parsing object motion from self-motion-induced optic flow can operate on multisensory object representations.