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Above the Mean: Examining Variability in Behavioral and Neural Responses to Multisensory Stimuli

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

Even when experimental conditions are kept constant, a robust and consistent finding in both behavioral and neural experiments designed to examine multisensory processing is striking variability. Although this variability has often been considered uninteresting noise (a term that is laden with strong connotations), emerging work suggests that differences in variability may be an important aspect in describing differences in performance between individuals and groups. In the current review, derived from a symposium at the 2015 International Multisensory Research Forum in Pisa, Italy, we focus on several aspects of variability as it relates to multisensory function. This effort seeks to expand our understanding of variability at levels of coding and analysis ranging from the single neuron through large networks and on to behavioral processes, and encompasses a number of the multimodal approaches that are used to evaluate and characterize multisensory processing including single-unit neurophysiology, electroencephalography (EEG), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and electrocorticography (ECoG).

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Affiliations: 1: 1Vanderbilt Brain Institute, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA ; 2: 2Department of Cognitive Psychology, University of Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany ; 3: 3Department of Psychology, Carl-von-Ossietzky University, Oldenburg, Germany ; 4: 4Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA

*To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:

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