Multisensory interplay reveals crossmodal influences on 'sensory-specific' brain regions, neural responses, and judgments

Neuron. 2008 Jan 10;57(1):11-23. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2007.12.013.


Although much traditional sensory research has studied each sensory modality in isolation, there has been a recent explosion of interest in causal interplay between different senses. Various techniques have now identified numerous multisensory convergence zones in the brain. Some convergence may arise surprisingly close to low-level sensory-specific cortex, and some direct connections may exist even between primary sensory cortices. A variety of multisensory phenomena have now been reported in which sensory-specific brain responses and perceptual judgments concerning one sense can be affected by relations with other senses. We survey recent progress in this multisensory field, foregrounding human studies against the background of invasive animal work and highlighting possible underlying mechanisms. These include rapid feedforward integration, possible thalamic influences, and/or feedback from multisensory regions to sensory-specific brain areas. Multisensory interplay is more prevalent than classic modular approaches assumed, and new methods are now available to determine the underlying circuits.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Humans
  • Judgment / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Perception / classification
  • Perception / physiology*