Evidence for enhanced multisensory facilitation with stimulus relevance: an electrophysiological investigation.
Barutchu A., Freestone DR., Innes-Brown H., Crewther DP., Crewther SG.
Currently debate exists relating to the interplay between multisensory processes and bottom-up and top-down influences. However, few studies have looked at neural responses to newly paired audiovisual stimuli that differ in their prescribed relevance. For such newly associated audiovisual stimuli, optimal facilitation of motor actions was observed only when both components of the audiovisual stimuli were targets. Relevant auditory stimuli were found to significantly increase the amplitudes of the event-related potentials at the occipital pole during the first 100 ms post-stimulus onset, though this early integration was not predictive of multisensory facilitation. Activity related to multisensory behavioral facilitation was observed approximately 166 ms post-stimulus, at left central and occipital sites. Furthermore, optimal multisensory facilitation was found to be associated with a latency shift of induced oscillations in the beta range (14-30 Hz) at right hemisphere parietal scalp regions. These findings demonstrate the importance of stimulus relevance to multisensory processing by providing the first evidence that the neural processes underlying multisensory integration are modulated by the relevance of the stimuli being combined. We also provide evidence that such facilitation may be mediated by changes in neural synchronization in occipital and centro-parietal neural populations at early and late stages of neural processing that coincided with stimulus selection, and the preparation and initiation of motor action.