Integrating naturalistic signals from audition and touch


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Degano, Giulio ORCID: (2021). Integrating naturalistic signals from audition and touch. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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In everyday life, humans are exposed to a plethora of sensory inputs that form the so-called multisensory environment. To react appropriately, the brain combines information carried by the different senses. Although a valid line of ecologically-valid experiments has been conducted on the investigation of audio-visual integration, fewer studies have explored other types of cross-modal interactions in the same naturalistic setting.

The present thesis uncovered the neural correlates of audio-tactile pairing during the free-behaving perception of musical compositions. Specifically, fMRI and EEG data were analysed to (1) understand the temporal and spatial signature of audio-tactile binding; (2) assess the neural benefit of tactile stimulation during auditory scene analysis; (3) comprehend the modulation of cross-modal formations across different levels of awareness. To achieve such aims, neural activations in response to multisensory and unisensory conditions were collected during wakefulness and sleep.

The results of the neuroimaging analyses revealed that naturalistic audio-tactile interactions verify the neural criteria of multisensory object formation. Precisely, it is demonstrated that the audio-tactile binding involves low-level sensory areas and occurs at early time windows of integration [0-150ms]. In regard to the auditory scene analysis, the presented findings confirmed that the tactile signal boosts the representation of the congruent auditory stream during naturalistic scenarios. Finally, while this binding is shown to occur during wakefulness, it is suggested that it is modulated by different levels of awareness, with stages of deeper sleep cancelling out the neural multisensory benefit.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: European Research Council
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology


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