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It is well accepted that multisensory integration has a facilitative effect on perceptual and motor processes, evolutionarily enhancing the chance of survival of many species, including humans. Yet, there is limited understanding of the relationship between multisensory processes, environmental noise, and children's cognitive abilities. Thus, this study investigated the relationship between multisensory integration, auditory background noise, and the general intellectual abilities of school-age children (N = 88, mean age = 9 years, 7 months) using a simple audiovisual detection paradigm. We provide evidence that children with enhanced multisensory integration in quiet and noisy conditions are likely to score above average on the Full-Scale IQ of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Fourth Edition (WISC-IV). Conversely, approximately 45% of tested children, with relatively low verbal and nonverbal intellectual abilities, showed reduced multisensory integration in either quiet or noise. Interestingly, approximately 20% of children showed improved multisensory integration abilities in the presence of auditory background noise. The findings of the present study suggest that stable and consistent multisensory integration in quiet and noisy environments is associated with the development of optimal general intellectual abilities. Further theoretical implications are discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


Dev Psychol

Publication Date





877 - 885


Acoustic Stimulation, Auditory Perception, Child, Child Behavior, Child Development, Female, Humans, Intelligence, Male, Noise, Photic Stimulation, Visual Perception, Wechsler Scales