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Changes in Sensory Dominance During Childhood: Converging Evidence From the Colavita Effect and the Sound-Induced Flash Illusion


  • We thank the director, teachers, and pupils of “Istituto Comprensivo di Tarcento” (Tarcento, Italy) and the “Istituto Comprensivo Rovereto Est” (Rovereto, Italy) for their collaboration in the present study. We also thank Gabriella Scala and Serena Siega for their help in data collection. This research was supported by a PRIN grant (Italy) to F.P. and a fellowship from the Rovereto City Council (Comune di Rovereto, Italy). We are very grateful to Professor Charles Spence for the useful comments made to improve our manuscript. It certainly has now. We also thank the two anonymous reviewers for the constructive critics and comments to the manuscript. This study has been realized thanks to the support from the Provincia Autonoma di Trento (Italy) and the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Trento e Rovereto (Italy).

  • [Correction added on 10/11/2012, after first online publication 9/24/2012: The first and second authors' affiliations have been corrected.]

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Elena Nava, Department of Biopsychology and Neuropsychology, University of Hamburg, Von-Melle-Park 11, 20146, Hamburg, Germany. Electronic mail may be sent to


In human adults, visual dominance emerges in several multisensory tasks. In children, auditory dominance has been reported up to 4 years of age. To establish when sensory dominance changes during development, 41 children (6–7, 9–10, and 11–12 years) were tested on the Colavita task (Experiment 1) and 32 children (6–7, 9–10, and 11–12 years) were tested on the sound-induced flash illusion (Experiment 2). In both experiments, an auditory dominance emerged in 6- to 7-year-old children compared to older children. Adult-like visual dominance started to emerge from 9 to 10 years of age, and consolidated in 11- to 12-year-old children. These findings show that auditory dominance persists up to 6 years, but switches to visual dominance during the first school years.

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