Crossmodal integration for perception and action

J Physiol Paris. 2004 Jan-Jun;98(1-3):265-79. doi: 10.1016/j.jphysparis.2004.06.001.


The integration of information from different sensory modalities has many advantages for human observers, including increase of salience, resolution of perceptual ambiguities, and unified perception of objects and surroundings. Several behavioral, electrophysiological and neuroimaging data collected in various tasks, including localization and detection of spatial events, crossmodal perception of object properties and scene analysis are reviewed here. All the results highlight the multiple faces of crossmodal interactions and provide converging evidence that the brain takes advantages of spatial and temporal coincidence between spatial events in the crossmodal binding of spatial features gathered through different modalities. Furthermore, the elaboration of a multimodal percept appears to be based on an adaptive combination of the contribution of each modality, according to the intrinsic reliability of sensory cue, which itself depends on the task at hand and the kind of perceptual cues involved in sensory processing. Computational models based on bayesian sensory estimation provide valuable explanations of the way perceptual system could perform such crossmodal integration. Recent anatomical evidence suggest that crossmodal interactions affect early stages of sensory processing, and could be mediated through a dynamic recurrent network involving backprojections from multimodal areas as well as lateral connections that can modulate the activity of primary sensory cortices, though future behavioral and neurophysiological studies should allow a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bayes Theorem*
  • Humans
  • Sound Localization / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*