To bridge or not to bridge the multisensory time gap: bimanual coordination to sound and touch with temporal lags

Exp Brain Res. 2017 Jan;235(1):135-151. doi: 10.1007/s00221-016-4776-4. Epub 2016 Sep 21.


Living in a complex and multisensory environment involves constant interaction between perception and action. There is evidence that multisensory integration is governed by temporal factors, such as physiological synchrony between cross-modal stimuli favouring multisensory benefit, and the existence of a range of asynchrony between the stimuli which affords their binding (the temporal window of integration). These factors were examined in this study in a bimanual sensorimotor synchronization task with cross-modal stimuli. Participants synchronized each hand to a pair of audio-tactile stimuli, in which the asynchrony between onsets of auditory and tactile stimuli was systematically manipulated. In cross-modal conditions, they were instructed to tap either to the auditory stimuli or to tactile stimuli. The results reported a temporal window of integration of 160 ms centred around 40 and 80 ms (tactile first). Moreover, the temporal interval between the auditory and tactile stimuli affected the stability of bimanual coordination and of synchronization exclusively when participants were instructed to synchronize with tactile stimuli. Overall, the results indicate that both physiological asynchrony and temporal window of integration apply to cross-modal integration in a bimanual synchronization task. In addition, it shows the effect of auditory dominance onto multisensory temporal processes. This study sheds light on the role of temporal factors in multisensory processes when perception and actions are rhythmic and coupled.

Keywords: Audio–tactile stimuli; Bimanual synchronization; Coordination dynamics; Physiological synchrony; Stimuli-onset asynchrony; Temporal window of integration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fingers / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Periodicity
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time
  • Time Perception / physiology*
  • Touch / physiology*
  • Young Adult