Journal article

Visual-induced expectations modulate auditory cortical responses

Active sensing has important consequences on multisensory processing (Schroeder et al.,2010). Here, we asked whether in the absence of saccades, the position of the eyes and the timing of transient color changes of visual stimuli could selectively affect the excitability of auditory cortex by redicting the “where” and the “when” of a sound, respectively. Human participants were recorded with magnetoencephalography (MEG) while maintaining the position of their eyes on the left, right, or center of the screen. Participants counted color changes of the fixation cross while neglecting sounds which could be presented to the left, right, or both ears. First, clear alpha power increases were observed in auditory cortices, consistent with participants’ attention directed to visual inputs. Second, color changes elicited robust modulations of auditory cortex responses (“when” prediction) seen as ramping activity, early alpha phase-locked responses, and enhanced high-gamma band responses in the contralateral side of sound presentation. Third, no modulations of auditory evoked or oscillatory activity were found to be specific to eye position. Altogether, our results suggest that visual transience can automatically elicit a prediction of “when” a sound will occur by changing the excitability of auditory cortices irrespective of the attended modality, eye position or spatial congruency of auditory and visual events. To the contrary, auditory cortical responses were not significantly affected by eye position suggesting that “where” predictions may require active sensing or saccadic reset to modulate auditory cortex responses, notably in the absence of spatial orientation to sounds.


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