Illusory sound shifts induced by the ventriloquist illusion evoke the mismatch negativity

Neurosci Lett. 2004 Mar 11;357(3):163-6. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2003.12.085.


The ventriloquist illusion arises when sounds are mislocated towards a synchronous but spatially discrepant visual event. Here, we investigated the ventriloquist illusion at a neurophysiological level. The question was whether an illusory shift in sound location was reflected in the auditory mismatch negativity (MMN). An 'oddball' paradigm was used whereby simultaneously presented sounds and flashes coming from the same location served as standard. The deviant consisted of a sound originating from the same source as the standard together with a flash at 20 degrees spatial separation, which evoked an illusory sound shift. This illusory sound shift evoked an MMN closely resembling the MMN evoked by an actual sound shift. A visual-only control condition ruled out that the illusory-evoked MMN was confounded by the visual part of the audiovisual deviant. These results indicate that the crossmodal interaction on which the ventriloquist illusion is based takes place automatically at an early processing stage, within 200 ms after stimulus onset.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Illusions / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time
  • Sound
  • Sound Localization / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology*