The phase of pre-stimulus brain oscillations correlates with cross-modal synchrony perception

Ikumi, N., Torralba, M., Ruzzoli, M. and Soto-Faraco, S. (2019) The phase of pre-stimulus brain oscillations correlates with cross-modal synchrony perception. European Journal of Neuroscience, 49(2), pp. 150-164. (doi: 10.1111/ejn.14186) (PMID:30270546)

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In everyday life multisensory events, such as a glass crashing on the floor, the different sensory inputs are often experienced as simultaneous, despite the sensory processing of sound and sight within the brain are temporally misaligned. This lack of cross‐modal synchrony is the unavoidable consequence of different light and sound speeds, and their different neural transmission times in the corresponding sensory pathways. Hence, cross‐modal synchrony must be reconstructed during perception. It has been suggested that spontaneous fluctuations in neural excitability might be involved in the temporal organisation of sensory events during perception and account for variability in behavioural performance. Here, we addressed the relationship between ongoing brain oscillations and the perception of cross‐modal simultaneity. Participants performed an audio‐visual simultaneity judgement task while their EEG was recorded. We focused on pre‐stimulu activity, and found that the phase of neural oscillations at 13 ± 2 Hz 200 ms prior to the stimulus correlated with subjective simultaneity of otherwise identical sound‐flash events. Remarkably, the correlation between EEG phase and behavioural report occurred in the absence of concomitant changes in EEG amplitude. The probability of simultaneity perception fluctuated significantly as a function of pre‐stimulus phase, with the largest perceptual variation being accounted for phase angles nearly 180º apart. This pattern was strongly reliable for sound‐flash pairs but not for flash‐sound pairs. Overall, these findings suggest that the phase of ongoing brain activity might underlie internal states of the observer that influence cross‐modal temporal organisation between the senses and, in turn, subjective synchrony.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding: AGAUR Generalitat de Catalunya, Grant/ Award Number: 2014SGR856; Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad, Grant/ Award Number: PSI2016-75558-P AEI/ FEDER; European Research Council, Grant/Award Number: StG-2010 263145.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ruzzoli, Dr Manuela
Authors: Ikumi, N., Torralba, M., Ruzzoli, M., and Soto-Faraco, S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:European Journal of Neuroscience
ISSN (Online):1460-9568
Published Online:01 October 2018

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