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Developmental changes in the multisensory temporal binding window persist into adolescence

Authors

  • Andrea Hillock-Dunn,

    1.  Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, Vanderbilt University, USA
    2.  Vanderbilt University Kennedy Center, Vanderbilt University, USA
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  • Mark T. Wallace

    1.  Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, Vanderbilt University, USA
    2.  Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, USA
    3.  Vanderbilt University Kennedy Center, Vanderbilt University, USA
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Andrea Hillock-Dunn, c/o Mark Wallace, 465 21st Avenue South, Room 7110 MRB III, Nashville, TN 37232-8548, USA; e-mail: ahdunn@med.unc.edu

Abstract

We live in a world rich in sensory information, and consequently the brain is challenged with deciphering which cues from the various sensory modalities belong together. Determinations regarding the relatedness of sensory information appear to be based, at least in part, on the spatial and temporal relationships between the stimuli. Stimuli that are presented in close spatial and temporal correspondence are more likely to be associated with one another and thus ‘bound’ into a single perceptual entity. While there is a robust literature delineating behavioral changes in perception induced by multisensory stimuli, maturational changes in multisensory processing, particularly in the temporal realm, are poorly understood. The current study examines the developmental progression of multisensory temporal function by analyzing responses on an audiovisual simultaneity judgment task in 6- to 23-year-old participants. The overarching hypothesis for the study was that multisensory temporal function will mature with increasing age, with the developmental trajectory for this change being the primary point of inquiry. Results indeed reveal an age-dependent decrease in the size of the ‘multisensory temporal binding window’, the temporal interval within which multisensory stimuli are likely to be perceptually bound, with changes occurring over a surprisingly protracted time course that extends into adolescence.

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