Neural correlates of multisensory integration in the human brain: an ALE meta-analysis

Rev Neurosci. 2022 Sep 12;34(2):223-245. doi: 10.1515/revneuro-2022-0065. Print 2023 Feb 23.


Previous fMRI research identified superior temporal sulcus as central integration area for audiovisual stimuli. However, less is known about a general multisensory integration network across senses. Therefore, we conducted activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis with multiple sensory modalities to identify a common brain network. We included 49 studies covering all Aristotelian senses i.e., auditory, visual, tactile, gustatory, and olfactory stimuli. Analysis revealed significant activation in bilateral superior temporal gyrus, middle temporal gyrus, thalamus, right insula, and left inferior frontal gyrus. We assume these regions to be part of a general multisensory integration network comprising different functional roles. Here, thalamus operate as first subcortical relay projecting sensory information to higher cortical integration centers in superior temporal gyrus/sulcus while conflict-processing brain regions as insula and inferior frontal gyrus facilitate integration of incongruent information. We additionally performed meta-analytic connectivity modelling and found each brain region showed co-activations within the identified multisensory integration network. Therefore, by including multiple sensory modalities in our meta-analysis the results may provide evidence for a common brain network that supports different functional roles for multisensory integration.

Keywords: ALE meta-analysis; MACM analysis; fMRI; multisensory integration; multisensory integration network.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping* / methods
  • Brain* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Sensation
  • Temporal Lobe