Cross-modal sensory processing in the anterior cingulate and medial prefrontal cortices

Hum Brain Mapp. 2003 Aug;19(4):213-23. doi: 10.1002/hbm.10112.


One of the principal functions of the nervous system is to synthesize information from multiple sensory channels into a coherent behavioral and perceptual gestalt. A critical feature of this multisensory synthesis is the sorting and coupling of information derived from the same event. One of the singular features of stimuli conveying such information is their contextual or semantic congruence. Illustrating this fact, subjects are typically faster and more accurate when performing tasks that include congruent compared to incongruent cross-modal stimuli. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we demonstrate that activity in select brain areas is sensitive to the contextual congruence among cross-modal cues and to task difficulty. The anterior cingulate gyrus and adjacent medial prefrontal cortices showed significantly greater activity when visual and auditory stimuli were contextually congruent (i.e., matching) than when they were nonmatching. Although activity in these regions was also dependent on task difficulty, showing decreased activity with decreasing task difficulty, the activity changes associated with stimulus congruence predominated.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology