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Welber Marinovic, Paul Dux, Derek Arnold; Selective attention and multisensory integration. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):266. doi: 10.1167/11.11.266.
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Signals from a single physical event can be encoded in multiple sensory modalities, in different brain regions and at different times. Despite great interest, it is unclear how these signals are combined. One persistent controversy concerns the role of selective attention. We have addressed this issue by developing a novel paradigm. Sequential multisensory stimuli were presented (an audio-tactile and an audio-visual) and participants were required to identify one of the two pairs (e.g., was the tactile stimulus paired with a low or a high tone?). Participants were much better at this task when told which sensory modalities they must judge before the stimulus presentation, as opposed to after. This demonstrates that selective attention to specific sensory modalities is fundamental for multisensory binding, as having to divide attention across an additional irrelevant sensory modality evidently disrupts this process.
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