4th Annual Meeting of the International Multisensory Research Forum
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Brigitte Röder

Hearing cheats touch but less in the congenitally blind

Brigitte Röder
Psychology, University of Marburg

Kirsten Hoetting
Psychology, University of Marburg

     Abstract ID Number: 86
     Full text: Not available
     Last modified: May 20, 2003

The investigation of cross-modal illusions is one approach to study the principles of multisensory integration. Shams, Kamitani, and Shimojo (2000. What you see is what you hear. Nature, 408,
788) have demonstrated that task-irrelevant tones can change the number of perceived lights. Since the auditory modality has a higher temporal resolution than both vision and touch, it was hypothesised that task-irrelevant tones alter the number of perceived touches as well. Three groups of participants, two sighted groups (one blindfolded, one seeing) and one group of congenitally blind adults had to judge the number of tactile stimuli which were presented together with task-irrelevant sounds. When one tactile stimulus was accompanied by more than one tone, participants reported perceiving more than a single touch. While this illusion was similar in the two sighted groups, its size was markedly reduced in the congenitally blind. In a control condition with no and one tone the counts of congenitally blind were more precise than those of the sighted participants as well. It is speculated that in accordance with the "modality appropriateness" account interference by a task irrelevant modality is less if processing accuracy of the task relevant modality is high.

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