The Critical Role of Temporal Synchrony in the Salience of Intersensory Redundancy During Prenatal Development

Infancy. 2010 Jan;15(1):61-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-7078.2009.00008.x.


We explored the amount and timing of temporal synchrony necessary to facilitate prenatal perceptual learning using an animal model, the bobwhite quail. Quail embryos were exposed to various audiovisual combinations of a bob-white maternal call paired with patterned light during the late stages of prenatal development and were tested postnatally for evidence of prenatal auditory learning of the familiarized call. Results revealed that a maternal call paired with a single pulse of light synchronized with one note of the five note call was sufficient to facilitate embryos' prenatal perceptual learning of the entire call. A synchronous note occurring at the onset of the call burst was most effective at facilitating learning. These findings highlight quail embryos' remarkable sensitivity to temporal synchrony and indicate its role in promoting learning of redundantly specified stimulus properties during prenatal development.