Neural bases of multisensory processing and its behavioral and perceptual correlates
Mark T. Wallace
Hearing and Speech Sciences & Psychology
7110B MRB III, 465 21st Ave. South
Our lab is interested in better understanding how the brain synthesizes information from multiple sensory systems (e.g., vision, hearing, touch). Given that we are continually bombarded with sensory information, it seems intuitively obvious that one important brain function is to synthesize this multisensory information. Such multisensory integration enhances our ability to react to external events, as well as enriching our perception of those events and the world around us. Nonetheless, despite the ubiquity and utility of multisensory processes, surprisingly little is known about their neural bases, in striking contrast to what is known about the individual sensory systems that contribute to them. Using a multidisciplinary approach, our lab seeks to fill this knowledge gap. A sampling of the techniques in use in the lab includes: animal behavior, neurophysiological recordings from single neurons and neuronal ensembles, neuroanatomical tract tracing, human psychophysics, ERPs and fMRI. Currently, we are pursuing a number of questions related to multisensory processes. These include: (1) the development of cortical multisensory circuits, (2) developmental and adult plasticity in these circuits, (3) how multisensory signals are transformed into appropriate motor commands, (4) multisensory influences on normal human perception and performance, (5) the impact of perceptual training on multisensory perceptions, and(6) how multisensory processing is impacted in neurodevelopmental disabilities such as autism and dyslexia.