Surmising synchrony of sound and sight: factors explaining variance of audiovisual integration in hurdling, tap dancing and drumming

Nina Heins, Jennifer Pomp, Daniel S Kluger, Stefan Vinbrüx, Ima Trempler, Axel Kohler, Katja Kornysheva, Karen Zentgraf, Markus Raab, Ricarda I Schubotz

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Auditory and visual percepts are integrated even when they are not perfectly temporally aligned with each other, especially when the visual signal precedes the auditory signal. This window of temporal integration for asynchronous audiovisual stimuli is relatively well examined in the case of speech, while other natural action-induced sounds have been widely neglected. Here, we studied the detection of audiovisual asynchrony in three different whole-body actions with natural action-induced sounds-hurdling, tap dancing and drumming. In Study 1, we examined whether audiovisual asynchrony detection, assessed by a simultaneity judgment task, differs as a function of sound production intentionality. Based on previous findings, we expected that auditory and visual signals should be integrated over a wider temporal window for actions creating sounds intentionally (tap dancing), compared to actions creating sounds incidentally (hurdling). While percentages of perceived synchrony differed in the expected way, we identified two further factors, namely high event density and low rhythmicity, to induce higher synchrony ratings as well. Therefore, we systematically varied event density and rhythmicity in Study 2, this time using drumming stimuli to exert full control over these variables, and the same simultaneity judgment tasks. Results suggest that high event density leads to a bias to integrate rather than segregate auditory and visual signals, even at relatively large asynchronies. Rhythmicity had a similar, albeit weaker effect, when event density was low. Our findings demonstrate that shorter asynchronies and visual-first asynchronies lead to higher synchrony ratings of whole-body action, pointing to clear parallels with audiovisual integration in speech perception. Overconfidence in the naturally expected, that is, synchrony of sound and sight, was stronger for intentional (vs. incidental) sound production and for movements with high (vs. low) rhythmicity, presumably because both encourage predictive processes. In contrast, high event density appears to increase synchronicity judgments simply because it makes the detection of audiovisual asynchrony more difficult. More studies using real-life audiovisual stimuli with varying event densities and rhythmicities are needed to fully uncover the general mechanisms of audiovisual integration.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0253130
Number of pages23
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2021


  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception
  • Dancing/physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music/psychology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Sound
  • Track and Field/physiology
  • Visual Perception/physiology
  • Young Adult


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