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Keywords:

  • audiovisual interactions;
  • auditory cortex;
  • cross-modal;
  • human;
  • MEG;
  • visual cortex

Abstract

Here we report early cross-sensory activations and audiovisual interactions at the visual and auditory cortices using magnetoencephalography (MEG) to obtain accurate timing information. Data from an identical fMRI experiment were employed to support MEG source localization results. Simple auditory and visual stimuli (300-ms noise bursts and checkerboards) were presented to seven healthy humans. MEG source analysis suggested generators in the auditory and visual sensory cortices for both within-modality and cross-sensory activations. fMRI cross-sensory activations were strong in the visual but almost absent in the auditory cortex; this discrepancy with MEG possibly reflects the influence of acoustical scanner noise in fMRI. In the primary auditory cortices (Heschl’s gyrus) the onset of activity to auditory stimuli was observed at 23 ms in both hemispheres, and to visual stimuli at 82 ms in the left and at 75 ms in the right hemisphere. In the primary visual cortex (Calcarine fissure) the activations to visual stimuli started at 43 ms and to auditory stimuli at 53 ms. Cross-sensory activations thus started later than sensory-specific activations, by 55 ms in the auditory cortex and by 10 ms in the visual cortex, suggesting that the origins of the cross-sensory activations may be in the primary sensory cortices of the opposite modality, with conduction delays (from one sensory cortex to another) of 30–35 ms. Audiovisual interactions started at 85 ms in the left auditory, 80 ms in the right auditory and 74 ms in the visual cortex, i.e., 3–21 ms after inputs from the two modalities converged.