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Natural asynchronies in audiovisual communication signals regulate neuronal multisensory interactions in voice-sensitive cortex

Lookup NU author(s): Catherine Perrodin, Professor Christopher Petkov


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When social animals communicate, the onset of informative content in one modality varies considerably relative to the other, such as when visual orofacial movements precede a vocalization. These naturally occurring asynchronies do not disrupt intelligibility or perceptual coherence. However, they occur on time scales where they likely affect integrative neuronal activity in ways that have remained unclear, especially for hierarchically downstream regions in which neurons exhibit temporally imprecise but highly selective responses to communication signals. To address this, we exploited naturally occurring face- and voice-onset asynchronies in primate vocalizations. Using these as stimuli we recorded cortical oscillations and neuronal spiking responses from functional MRI (fMRI)-localized voice-sensitive cortex in the anterior temporal lobe of macaques. We show that the onset of the visual face stimulus resets the phase of low-frequency oscillations, and that the face- voice asynchrony affects the prominence of two key types of neuronal multisensory responses: enhancement or suppression. Our findings show a three-way association between temporal delays in audiovisual communication signals, phase-resetting of ongoing oscillations, and the sign of multisensory responses. The results reveal how natural onset asynchronies in cross-sensory inputs regulate network oscillations and neuronal excitability in the voice-sensitive cortex of macaques, a suggested animal model for human voice areas. These findings also advance predictions on the impact of multisensory input on neuronal processes in face areas and other brain regions.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Perrodin C, Kayser C, Logothetis NK, Petkov CI

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Year: 2015

Volume: 112

Issue: 1

Pages: 273-278

Print publication date: 06/01/2015

Acceptance date: 02/12/2014

ISSN (print): 0027-8424

ISSN (electronic): 1091-6490

Publisher: National Academy of Sciences


DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1412817112


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Funder referenceFunder name
Max-Planck Society
BB/L027534/1Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Grant
PBSKP3_140120Swiss National Science Foundation Grant
WT092606/Z/10/ZWellcome Trust
WT102961MAWellcome Trust
102961/Z/13/ZWellcome Trust