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Is the auditory sensory memory sensitive to visual information?

Experimental Brain Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1007/s00221-005-2375-x
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The Mismatch Negativity component of the auditory event-related brain potentials can be used as a probe to study the representation of sounds in Auditory Sensory Memory (ASM). Yet, it has been shown that an auditory MMN can also be elicited by an illusory auditory deviance induced by visual changes. This suggests that some visual information may be encoded in ASM and is accessible to the auditory MMN process. However, it is not known whether visual information influences ASM representation for any audiovisual event or whether this phenomenon is limited to specific domains in which strong audiovisual illusions occur. To highlight this issue, we have compared the topographies of MMNs elicited by non-speech audiovisual stimuli deviating from audiovisual standards on the visual, the auditory or both dimensions. Contrary to what occurs with audiovisual illusions, each unimodal deviants elicited sensory-specific MMNs and the MMN to audiovisual deviants included both sensory components. The visual MMN was however different from a genuine visual MMN obtained in a visual-only control oddbbal paradigm, suggesting that auditory and visual information interacts before the MMN process occurs. Furthermore, the MMN to audiovisual deviants was significantly different from the sum of the two sensory-specific MMNs, showing that the processes of visual and auditory change detection are not completely independent.

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