Age-Related Effects on Cross-Modal Duration Perception.
ABSTRACT: Reliable duration perception of external events is necessary to coordinate perception with action, precisely discriminate speech, and for other daily functions. Visual duration perception can be heavily influenced by concurrent auditory signals; however, age-related effects on this process have received minimal attention. In the present study, we examined the effect of aging on duration perception by quantifying (1) duration discrimination thresholds, (2) auditory temporal dominance, and (3) visual duration expansion/compression percepts induced by an accompanying auditory stimulus of longer/shorter duration. Duration discrimination thresholds were significantly greater for visual than auditory tasks in both age groups, however there was no effect of age. While the auditory modality retained dominance in duration perception with age, older adults still performed worse than young adults when comparing durations of two target stimuli (e.g., visual) in the presence of distractors from the other modality (e.g., auditory). Finally, both age groups perceived similar visual duration compression, whereas older adults exhibited visual duration expansion over a wider range of auditory durations compared to their younger counterparts. Results are discussed in terms of multisensory integration and possible decision strategies that change with age.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The ability to estimate the passage of time is of fundamental importance for perceptual and cognitive processes. One experience of time is the perception of duration, which is not isomorphic to physical duration and can be distorted by a number of factors. Yet, the critical features generating these perceptual shifts in subjective duration are not understood. METHODOLOGY/FINDINGS:We used prospective duration judgments within and across sensory modalities to examine the effect of stimulus predictability and feature change on the perception of duration. First, we found robust distortions of perceived duration in auditory, visual and auditory-visual presentations despite the predictability of the feature changes in the stimuli. For example, a looming disc embedded in a series of steady discs led to time dilation, whereas a steady disc embedded in a series of looming discs led to time compression. Second, we addressed whether visual (auditory) inputs could alter the perception of duration of auditory (visual) inputs. When participants were presented with incongruent audio-visual stimuli, the perceived duration of auditory events could be shortened or lengthened by the presence of conflicting visual information; however, the perceived duration of visual events was seldom distorted by the presence of auditory information and was never perceived shorter than their actual durations. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:These results support the existence of multisensory interactions in the perception of duration and, importantly, suggest that vision can modify auditory temporal perception in a pure timing task. Insofar as distortions in subjective duration can neither be accounted for by the unpredictability of an auditory, visual or auditory-visual event, we propose that it is the intrinsic features of the stimulus that critically affect subjective time distortions.
Project description:Across development, vision increasingly influences audio-visual perception. This is evidenced in illusions such as the McGurk effect, in which a seen mouth movement changes the perceived sound. The current paper assessed the effects of manipulating the clarity of the heard and seen signal upon the McGurk effect in children aged 3-6 (n?=?29), 7-9 (n?=?32) and 10-12 (n?=?29) years, and adults aged 20-35 years (n?=?32). Auditory noise increased, and visual blur decreased, the likelihood of vision changing auditory perception. Based upon a proposed developmental shift from auditory to visual dominance we predicted that younger children would be less susceptible to McGurk responses, and that adults would continue to be influenced by vision in higher levels of visual noise and with less auditory noise. Susceptibility to the McGurk effect was higher in adults compared with 3-6-year-olds and 7-9-year-olds but not 10-12-year-olds. Younger children required more auditory noise, and less visual noise, than adults to induce McGurk responses (i.e. adults and older children were more easily influenced by vision). Reduced susceptibility in childhood supports the theory that sensory dominance shifts across development and reaches adult-like levels by 10 years of age.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:Cognitive load (CL) impairs listeners' ability to comprehend sentences, recognize words, and identify speech sounds. Recent findings suggest that this effect originates in a disruption of low-level perception of acoustic details. Here, we attempted to quantify such a disruption by measuring the effect of CL (a two-back task) on pure-tone audiometry (PTA) thresholds. We also asked whether the effect of CL on PTA was greater in older adults, on account of their reduced ability to divide cognitive resources between simultaneous tasks. To specify the mechanisms and representations underlying the interface between auditory and cognitive processes, we contrasted CL requiring visual encoding with CL requiring auditory encoding. Finally, the link between the cost of performing PTA under CL, working memory, and speech-in-noise (SiN) perception was investigated and compared between younger and older participants. DESIGN:Younger and older adults (44 in each group) did a PTA test at 0.5, 1, 2, and 4?kHz pure tones under CL and no CL. CL consisted of a visual two-back task running throughout the PTA test. The two-back task involved either visual encoding of the stimuli (meaningless images) or subvocal auditory encoding (a rhyme task on written nonwords). Participants also underwent a battery of SiN tests and a working memory test (letter number sequencing). RESULTS:Younger adults showed elevated PTA thresholds under CL, but only when CL involved subvocal auditory encoding. CL had no effect when it involved purely visual encoding. In contrast, older adults showed elevated thresholds under both types of CL. When present, the PTA CL cost was broadly comparable in younger and older adults (approximately 2 dB HL). The magnitude of PTA CL cost did not correlate significantly with SiN perception or working memory in either age group. In contrast, PTA alone showed strong links to both SiN and letter number sequencing in older adults. CONCLUSIONS:The results show that CL can exert its effect at the level of hearing sensitivity. However, in younger adults, this effect is only found when CL involves auditory mental representations. When CL involves visual representations, it has virtually no impact on hearing thresholds. In older adults, interference is found in both conditions. The results suggest that hearing progresses from engaging primarily modality-specific cognition in early adulthood to engaging cognition in a more undifferentiated way in older age. Moreover, hearing thresholds measured under CL did not predict SiN perception more accurately than standard PTA thresholds.
Project description:Recent sensory history plays a critical role in duration perception. It has been established that after adapting to a particular duration, the test durations within a certain range appear to be distorted. To explore whether the aftereffect of perceived duration can be constrained by sensory modality and stimulus feature within a modality, the current study applied the technique of simultaneous sensory adaptation, by which observers were able to simultaneously adapt to two durations defined by two different stimuli. Using both simple visual and auditory stimuli, we found that the aftereffect of perceived duration is modality specific and contingent on auditory frequency but not visual orientation of the stimulus. These results demonstrate that there are independent timers responsible for the aftereffects of perceived duration in each sensory modality. Furthermore, the timer for the auditory modality may be located at a relatively earlier stage of sensory processing than the timer for the visual modality.
Project description:Individuals possessing absolute pitch (AP) are able to identify a given musical tone or to reproduce it without reference to another tone. The present study sought to learn whether this exceptional auditory ability impacts visual perception under stimulus conditions that provoke visual competition in the form of binocular rivalry. Nineteen adult participants with 3-19 years of musical training were divided into two groups according to their performance on a task involving identification of the specific note associated with hearing a given musical pitch. During test trials lasting just over half a minute, participants dichoptically viewed a scrolling musical score presented to one eye and a drifting sinusoidal grating presented to the other eye; throughout the trial they pressed buttons to track the alternations in visual awareness produced by these dissimilar monocular stimuli. On "pitch-congruent" trials, participants heard an auditory melody that was congruent in pitch with the visual score, on "pitch-incongruent" trials they heard a transposed auditory melody that was congruent with the score in melody but not in pitch, and on "melody-incongruent" trials they heard an auditory melody completely different from the visual score. For both groups, the visual musical scores predominated over the gratings when the auditory melody was congruent compared to when it was incongruent. Moreover, the AP participants experienced greater predominance of the visual score when it was accompanied by the pitch-congruent melody compared to the same melody transposed in pitch; for non-AP musicians, pitch-congruent and pitch-incongruent trials yielded equivalent predominance. Analysis of individual durations of dominance revealed differential effects on dominance and suppression durations for AP and non-AP participants. These results reveal that AP is accompanied by a robust form of bisensory interaction between tonal frequencies and musical notation that boosts the salience of a visual score.
Project description:The current experiment examined changes in visual selective attention in young children, older children, young adults, and older adults while participants were instructed to ignore auditory and visual distractors. The aims of the study were to: (a) determine if the Perceptual Load Hypothesis (PLH) (distraction greater under low perceptual load) could predict which irrelevant stimuli would disrupt visual selective attention, and (b) if auditory to visual shifts found in modality dominance research could be extended to selective attention tasks. Overall, distractibility decreased with age, with incompatible distractors having larger costs in young and older children than adults. In regard to accuracy, visual distractibility did not differ across age nor load, whereas, auditory interference was more pronounced early in development and correlated with age. Auditory and visual distractors also slowed down responses in young and older children more than adults. Finally, the PLH did not predict performance. Rather, children often showed the opposite pattern, with visual distractors having a greater cost in the high load condition (older children) and auditory distractors having a greater cost in the high load condition (young children). These findings are consistent with research examining the development of modality dominance and shed light on changes in multisensory processing and selective attention across the lifespan.
Project description:Tinnitus correlates with elevated hearing thresholds and reduced cochlear compression. We hypothesized that reduced peripheral input leads to elevated neuronal gain resulting in the perception of a phantom sound.The purpose of this pilot study was to test whether compensating for this peripheral deficit could reduce the tinnitus percept acutely using customized auditory stimulation. To further enhance the effects of auditory stimulation, this intervention was paired with high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS).A randomized sham-controlled, single blind study was conducted in a clinical setting on adult participants with chronic tinnitus (n = 14). Compensatory auditory stimulation (CAS) and HD-tDCS were administered either individually or in combination in order to access the effects of both interventions on tinnitus perception. CAS consisted of sound exposure typical to daily living (20-minute sound-track of a TV show), which was adapted with compressive gain to compensate for deficits in each subject's individual audiograms. Minimum masking levels and the visual analog scale were used to assess the strength of the tinnitus percept immediately before and after the treatment intervention.CAS reduced minimum masking levels, and visual analog scale trended towards improvement. Effects of HD-tDCS could not be resolved with the current sample size.The results of this pilot study suggest that providing tailored auditory stimulation with frequency-specific gain and compression may alleviate tinnitus in a clinical population. Further experimentation with longer interventions is warranted in order to optimize effect sizes.
Project description:Perception of our world is proposed to arise from combining multiple sensory inputs according to their relative reliability. We tested multisensory processes in a large sample of 2920 older adults to assess whether sensory ability mediates age-related changes in perception. Participants completed a test of audio-visual integration, the Sound Induced Flash Illusion (SIFI), alongside measures of visual (acuity, contrast sensitivity, self-reported vision and visual temporal discrimination (VTD)) and auditory (self-reported hearing and auditory temporal discrimination (ATD)) function. Structural equation modelling showed that SIFI susceptibility increased with age. This was mediated by visual acuity and self-reported hearing: better scores on these measures predicted reduced and stronger SIFI susceptibility, respectively. Unexpectedly, VTD improved with age and predicted increased SIFI susceptibility. Importantly, the relationship between age and SIFI susceptibility remained significant, even when considering mediators. A second model showed that, with age, visual 'gain' (the benefit of congruent auditory information on visual judgements) was predicted by ATD: better ATD predicted stronger visual gain. However, neither age nor SIFI susceptibility were directly associated with visual gain. Our findings illustrate, in the largest sample of older adults to date, how multisensory perception is influenced, but not fully accounted for, by age-related changes in unisensory abilities.
Project description:The sense of ownership of one's body is important for survival, e.g., in defending the body against a threat. However, in addition to affecting behavior, it also affects perception of the world. In the case of visuospatial perception, it has been shown that the sense of ownership causes external space to be perceptually scaled according to the size of the body. Here, we investigated the effect of ownership on another fundamental aspect of visual perception: visual awareness. In two binocular rivalry experiments, we manipulated the sense of ownership of a stranger's hand through visuotactile stimulation while that hand was one of the rival stimuli. The results show that ownership, but not mere visuotactile stimulation, increases the dominance of the hand percept. This effect is due to a combination of longer perceptual dominance durations and shorter suppression durations. Together, these results suggest that the sense of body ownership promotes visual awareness.
Project description:Binocular rivalry is a phenomenon where the simultaneous presentation of two different stimuli to the two eyes leads to alternating perception of the two stimuli. The temporary dominance of one stimulus over the other is influenced by several factors. Here, we studied the influence of reward on binocular rivalry dynamics and its neural representation in visual cortex. Orthogonal rotating grating stimuli were shown continuously, while monetary reward was given during the conscious perception of one stimulus but not the other. Periods of perceptual dominance were assessed both through participants' subjective report and objectively using functional magnetic resonance imaging and multi-voxel pattern analysis. Results did not confirm previous evidence for an effect of reward on perceptual dominance durations. Exploratory post-hoc analyses indicated that knowledge regarding both the reward contingency and the subjective nature of perceptual alternations may have interfered with potential reward effects on perceptual phase durations, suggesting a moderating role of meta-cognitive awareness in reward-based perceptual inference. Future studies of top-down influences on bistable perception should carefully consider the methodological challenges related to meta-cognitive awareness.