Multisensory integration: current issues from the perspective of the single neuron

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Apr;9(4):255-66. doi: 10.1038/nrn2331.


For thousands of years science philosophers have been impressed by how effectively the senses work together to enhance the salience of biologically meaningful events. However, they really had no idea how this was accomplished. Recent insights into the underlying physiological mechanisms reveal that, in at least one circuit, this ability depends on an intimate dialogue among neurons at multiple levels of the neuraxis; this dialogue cannot take place until long after birth and might require a specific kind of experience. Understanding the acquisition and usage of multisensory integration in the midbrain and cerebral cortex of mammals has been aided by a multiplicity of approaches. Here we examine some of the fundamental advances that have been made and some of the challenging questions that remain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Sensation / physiology*