Audiovisual spatial ventriloquism is reduced in musicians

Hear Res. 2023 Dec:440:108918. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2023.108918. Epub 2023 Nov 18.


There is great scientific and public interest in claims that musical training improves general cognitive and perceptual abilities. While this is controversial, recent and rather convincing evidence suggests that musical training refines the temporal integration of auditory and visual stimuli at a general level. We investigated whether musical training also affects integration in the spatial domain, via an auditory localisation experiment that measured ventriloquism (where localisation is biased towards visual stimuli on audiovisual trials) and recalibration (a unimodal localisation aftereffect). While musicians (n = 22) and non-musicians (n = 22) did not have significantly different unimodal precision or accuracy, musicians were significantly less susceptible than non-musicians to ventriloquism, with large effect sizes. We replicated these results in another experiment with an independent sample of 24 musicians and 21 non-musicians. Across both experiments, spatial recalibration did not significantly differ between the groups even though musicians resisted ventriloquism. Our results suggest that the multisensory expertise afforded by musical training refines spatial integration, a process that underpins multisensory perception.

Keywords: Audiovisual; Expertise; Multisensory integration; Musicianship; Sensory recalibration; Spatial perception.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Auditory Perception
  • Music*
  • Sound Localization*
  • Visual Perception