Spatial attention and expectation across audition and vision

Zuanazzi, Arianna (2019). Spatial attention and expectation across audition and vision. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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To enable robust perception in the multisensory environment, the brain combines signals from different sensory modalities. Attention and expectation are two top-down mechanisms that facilitate perceptual processes. Previous research has shown that attentional resources are shared across sensory modalities. However, these studies often confounded attention and expectation, thus making it difficult to disentangle their respective effects.

We orthogonally manipulated spatial attention and expectation and evaluated their modality-specific and crossmodal behavioural and neural effects. We demonstrated that spatial attention and expectation are intimately linked by co-determining response probabilities. Furthermore, we showed that they rely on partly overlapping neural systems. From the multisensory perspective, we showed that behavioural modality-specific effects of response probability are larger than crossmodal effects and that auditory and visual expectation are differently built over time. At the neural level, we demonstrated that spatial attention engages neural resources interactively across sensory modalities, whereas spatial expectation is encoded in a modality-specific fashion. Finally, despite the pivotal role attributed to the posterior parietal cortex in arbitrating between integration and segregation of multisensory signals, we did not observe changes in the magnitude of audiovisual binding following application of transcranial magnetic stimulation to the right anterior intraparietal sulcus.

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: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Q Science > QP Physiology


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