Electrical neuroimaging of memory discrimination based on single-trial multisensory learning

Neuroimage. 2012 Sep;62(3):1478-88. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.05.027. Epub 2012 May 18.


Multisensory experiences influence subsequent memory performance and brain responses. Studies have thus far concentrated on semantically congruent pairings, leaving unresolved the influence of stimulus pairing and memory sub-types. Here, we paired images with unique, meaningless sounds during a continuous recognition task to determine if purely episodic, single-trial multisensory experiences can incidentally impact subsequent visual object discrimination. Psychophysics and electrical neuroimaging analyses of visual evoked potentials (VEPs) compared responses to repeated images either paired or not with a meaningless sound during initial encounters. Recognition accuracy was significantly impaired for images initially presented as multisensory pairs and could not be explained in terms of differential attention or transfer of effects from encoding to retrieval. VEP modulations occurred at 100-130 ms and 270-310 ms and stemmed from topographic differences indicative of network configuration changes within the brain. Distributed source estimations localized the earlier effect to regions of the right posterior temporal gyrus (STG) and the later effect to regions of the middle temporal gyrus (MTG). Responses in these regions were stronger for images previously encountered as multisensory pairs. Only the later effect correlated with performance such that greater MTG activity in response to repeated visual stimuli was linked with greater performance decrements. The present findings suggest that brain networks involved in this discrimination may critically depend on whether multisensory events facilitate or impair later visual memory performance. More generally, the data support models whereby effects of multisensory interactions persist to incidentally affect subsequent behavior as well as visual processing during its initial stages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology
  • Young Adult