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Early attention modulates perceptual interpretation of multisensory stimuli

Zvyagintsev, Mikhaila,b; Nikolaev, Andrey R.e; Sachs, Olgaf; Mathiak, Klausa,c,d

doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e32834901f3

Perceptual interpretation of the same multisensory stimuli may rely upon influence of attention on multisensory integration. We tested this hypothesis by recording the brain activity using magnetoencephalography in a passing–bouncing illusion with sound. Early activation of the attention-related brain areas and subsequent involvement of the multisensory areas were associated with the bouncing percept. Early activation of the unimodal sensory areas and later involvement of the attention-related areas were associated with the passing percept. Thus, the bouncing percept occurs when early attentional deployment facilitates multisensory integration modulating visual perception. The passing percept results from hierarchical sequence of the perceptual processes: early activation of the unimodal areas and late attentional deployment. Alternation of the perceptual interpretations may depend on spontaneous fluctuation of attention.

aDepartment of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, University Hospital Aachen

bIZKF Aachen, RWTH Aachen University

cJARA-Translational Brain Medicine, Aachen

dINM-1, Research Center Jülich, Germany

eLaboratory for Perceptual Dynamics, RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Wako-shi, Japan

fFraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems CSE, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Correspondence to Mikhail Zvyagintsev, PhD, MD, BSc, Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, University Hospital Aachen, RWTH Aachen, Pauwelsstrasse 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany Tel: +49 0241 8037028; fax: +49 0241 8082401; e-mail:

Received May 17, 2011

Accepted May 19, 2011

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.