Plasticity in human sound localization induced by compressed spatial vision

Nat Neurosci. 2003 Feb;6(2):175-81. doi: 10.1038/nn999.


Auditory and visual target locations are encoded differently in the brain, but must be co-calibrated to maintain cross-sensory concordance. Mechanisms that adjust spatial calibration across modalities have been described (for example, prism adaptation in owls), though rudimentarily in humans. We quantified the adaptation of human sound localization in response to spatially compressed vision (0.5x lenses for 2-3 days). This induced a corresponding compression of auditory localization that was most pronounced for azimuth (minimal for elevation) and was restricted to the visual field of the lenses. Sound localization was also affected outside the field of visual-auditory interaction (shifted centrally, not compressed). These results suggest that spatially modified vision induces adaptive changes in adult human sound localization, including novel mechanisms that account for spatial compression. Findings are consistent with a model in which the central processing of sound location is encoded by recruitment rather than by a place code.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Eyeglasses
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Sound Localization / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*