Attracting attention to the illusory location of a sound: reflexive crossmodal orienting and ventriloquism.
Spence C., Driver J.
Sound localization can be affected by vision; in the ventriloquism effect, sounds that are hard to localize within hearing become mislocalized toward the location of concurrent visual events. Here we tested whether spatial attention is drawn to the illusory location of a ventriloquized sound. The study exploited our previous finding that visual cues do not attract auditory attention. We report an important exception to this rule; auditory attention can be drawn to the location of a visual cue when it is paired with a concurrent unlocalizable sound, to produce ventriloquism. This demonstrates that crossmodal integration can precede reflexive shifts of attention, with such shifts taking place toward the crossmodally determined illusory location of a sound. It also shows that ventriloquism arises automatically, with objective as well as subjective consequences.