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Relative Localization of Auditory and Visual Events Presented in Peripheral Visual Field

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For more content, see Seeing and Perceiving and Spatial Vision.

The brain apparently remaps the perceived locations of simultaneous auditory and visual events into a unified audio-visual space to integrate and/or compare multisensory inputs. However, there is little qualitative or quantitative data on how simultaneous auditory and visual events are located in the peripheral visual field (i.e., outside a few degrees of the fovea). We presented a sound burst and a flashing light simultaneously not only in the central visual field but also in the peripheral visual field and measured the relative perceived locations of the sound and flash. The results revealed that the sound and flash were perceptually located at the same location when the sound was presented at a 5° periphery of the flash, even when the participants’ eyes were fixed. Measurements of the unisensory locations of each sound and flash in a pointing task demonstrated that the perceived location of the sound shifted toward the front, while the perceived location of the flash shifted toward the periphery. As a result, the discrepancy between the perceptual location of the sound and the flash was around 4°. This suggests that the brain maps the unisensory locations of auditory and visual events into a unified audio-visual space, enabling it to generate unisensory spatial information about the events.

Affiliations: 1: 2Research Institute of Electrical Communication and Graduate School of Information Sciences, Tohoku University, 2-1-1 Katahira, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8577, Japan


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