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Full Access Subcortical, modality-specific pathways contribute to multisensory processing in humans

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Subcortical, modality-specific pathways contribute to multisensory processing in humans

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Oftentimes, we perceive our environment by integrating information across multiple senses. Recent studies suggest that such integration occurs at much earlier processing stages than once thought possible, including in thalamic nuclei and putatively unisensory cortical brain regions. Here, we used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and an audiovisual integration task to test the hypothesis that anatomical connections between sensory-related subcortical structures and sensory cortical areas govern multisensory processing in humans. Twenty-five subjects (mean age 22 years, 22 females) participated in the study. In line with our hypothesis, we show that estimated strength of white-matter connections between the first relay station in the auditory processing stream (the cochlear nucleus), the auditory thalamus, and primary auditory cortex predicted one’s ability to combine auditory and visual information in a visual search task. This finding supports a growing body of work that indicates that subcortical sensory pathways do not only feed forward unisensory information to the cortex, and suggests that anatomical brain connectivity contributes to multisensory processing ability in humans.

Affiliations: 1: 1Leiden University, The Netherlands; 2: 2University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands; 3: 3The University of Sydney, Australia; 4: 4Ghent University, Belgium

Oftentimes, we perceive our environment by integrating information across multiple senses. Recent studies suggest that such integration occurs at much earlier processing stages than once thought possible, including in thalamic nuclei and putatively unisensory cortical brain regions. Here, we used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and an audiovisual integration task to test the hypothesis that anatomical connections between sensory-related subcortical structures and sensory cortical areas govern multisensory processing in humans. Twenty-five subjects (mean age 22 years, 22 females) participated in the study. In line with our hypothesis, we show that estimated strength of white-matter connections between the first relay station in the auditory processing stream (the cochlear nucleus), the auditory thalamus, and primary auditory cortex predicted one’s ability to combine auditory and visual information in a visual search task. This finding supports a growing body of work that indicates that subcortical sensory pathways do not only feed forward unisensory information to the cortex, and suggests that anatomical brain connectivity contributes to multisensory processing ability in humans.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22134808-000s0080
2013-05-16
2016-12-10

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