Conditioned sounds enhance visual processing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics
  • Institute of Biological Psychology
  • Otto-von-Guericke University
  • Department of Robotics
  • Brain and Cognitive Sciences
  • Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia

Abstract

This psychophysics study investigated whether prior auditory conditioning influences how a sound interacts with visual perception. In the conditioning phase, subjects were presented with three pure tones ( = conditioned stimuli, CS) that were paired with positive, negative or neutral unconditioned stimuli. As unconditioned reinforcers we employed pictures (highly pleasant, unpleasant and neutral) or monetary outcomes (+50 euro cents, 250 cents, 0 cents). In the subsequent visual selective attention paradigm, subjects were presented with near-threshold Gabors displayed in their left or right hemifield. Critically, the Gabors were presented in synchrony with one of the conditioned sounds. Subjects discriminated whether the Gabors were presented in their left or right hemifields. Participants determined the location more accurately when the Gabors were presented in synchrony with positive relative to neutral sounds irrespective of reinforcer type. Thus, previously rewarded relative to neutral sounds increased the bottom-up salience of the visual Gabors. Our results are the first demonstration that prior auditory conditioning is a potent mechanism to modulate the effect of sounds on visual perception.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere106860
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume9
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2014