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Melissa A. Batson, Anton L. Beer, Takeo Watanabe; Task-irrelevant perceptual learning of crossmodal links in exogenous covert orienting. Journal of Vision 2006;6(6):182. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/6.6.182.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
An auditory cue improves performance in discrimination of subsequent visual stimuli that are spatially aligned with the cue. This crossmodal spatial cuing effect is found for short stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs) and in some cases reverses at longer SOAs (inhibition of return, IOR). It is commonly thought that the underlying crossmodal links are established early in life. However, based on recent research showing task-irrelevant plasticity in auditory and visual cortical areas, we hypothesized that the links between visual and auditory features can be changed, even in adults, without focused attention on stimulus features. During eight training sessions, participants performed a shape detection task. Each shape was presented together with a task-irrelevant Gabor and sound stimulus. Gabors were equally likely to appear at one of two sound locations or at one of four non-adjacent locations. However, target shapes were presented more frequently with sounds paired with a Gabor at a non-adjacent location. Crossmodal cuing effects were measured before and after training at ten different peripheral locations with a two-alternative forced-choice visual orientation discrimination task. All auditory cues originated either from the left or right, independent of the location of the visual stimuli. Pilot study results show that after training crossmodal cuing effect and IOR at the non-adjacent locations that were paired with the target shape during training were strengthened, whereas the cuing effect at the locations aligned with the sound was weakened. These findings suggest that crossmodal spatial links can be modified even late in life and without focused attention.
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