Neural responses in parietal and occipital areas in response to visual events are modulated by prior multisensory stimuli.
Innes-Brown H., Barutchu A., Crewther DP.
The effect of multi-modal vs uni-modal prior stimuli on the subsequent processing of a simple flash stimulus was studied in the context of the audio-visual 'flash-beep' illusion, in which the number of flashes a person sees is influenced by accompanying beep stimuli. EEG recordings were made while combinations of simple visual and audio-visual stimuli were presented. The experiments found that the electric field strength related to a flash stimulus was stronger when it was preceded by a multi-modal flash/beep stimulus, compared to when it was preceded by another uni-modal flash stimulus. This difference was found to be significant in two distinct timeframes--an early timeframe, from 130-160 ms, and a late timeframe, from 300-320 ms. Source localisation analysis found that the increased activity in the early interval was localised to an area centred on the inferior and superior parietal lobes, whereas the later increase was associated with stronger activity in an area centred on primary and secondary visual cortex, in the occipital lobe. The results suggest that processing of a visual stimulus can be affected by the presence of an immediately prior multisensory event. Relatively long-lasting interactions generated by the initial auditory and visual stimuli altered the processing of a subsequent visual stimulus.