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James Negen, Heather Slater, Laura-Ashleigh Bird, Marko Nardini; Internal biases are linked to disrupted cue combination in children and adults. Journal of Vision 2022;22(12):14. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.22.12.14.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Cue combination describes the use of two sensory cues together to increase perceptual precision. Internal relative bias describes a situation in which two cues to the same state of the world are perceived as signaling different states of the world on average. Current theory and evidence have difficulty accounting for many instances where cue combination is absent, such as in children under 10 years old, and in a variety of tasks. Here we show that internal relative biases between cues could be a key explanatory factor. Experiment 1, studying children's three-dimensional (slant) perception via disparity and texture, found a negative cross-sectional correlation between internal relative bias and cue combination behavior in 7- to 10-year-olds. Strikingly, children who had below-median levels of internal relative bias were able to combine cues, unlike the typical result for that age range. Experiment 2, studying adults’ visual-auditory localization, found that cue combination behavior increased after an intervention designed to decrease internal relative bias. We interpret this as strong but preliminary evidence that internal relative bias can disrupt cue combination behavior. This provides a plausible mechanism to explain why children under 10 generally do not combine cues and why the audiovisual cue combination is so inconsistent in adults. Moving forward, we suggest that researchers who fail to find an expected cue combination effect should further investigate the possibility of issues with internal relative bias. Decreasing internal relative bias may also be an important goal for rehabilitation and sensory substitution or augmentation approaches to promoting efficient multisensory perception.
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