Multisensory Object Based Attention

Project: Research project

Project Details


[unreadable] DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): An abundance of information enters our various sensory systems at any moment in time. Limited higher-order processing capacities require that only a sub-set of this information is processed beyond the basic sensory level. Selectively attending to locations, stimulus features, and whole objects are important ways in which we direct limited higher-order processing resources to task-relevant information. Thus far object-based attention has only been demonstrated within the visual sensory modality, showing that when attention is directed toward a single feature of an object (for example its color), the constituent task-irrelevant features of the object are also selected for preferential processing. However, objects tend to have characteristic features in multiple sensory modalities and thus when directing attention toward an object, it may well be advantageous to prime more than one sensory system to process features typical of that object. The goal of the proposed research is to test whether object-based attention is multisensory, such that attending to an object in one sensory modality results in the preferential processing of its characteristic features in unattended sensory modalities. Using a variation of the classical selective attention paradigm of Hillyard, high-density scalp recorded event-related potentials will be used to assess the presence of selective attention effects. Auditory, visual, and auditory- visual objects will be presented to subjects, and in different blocks they will be instructed to perform a task on the auditory or the visual objects. The presence of selective attention effects for attended objects presented in task-irrelevant sensory modalities (e.g., for the auditory element of the attended object during visual attention blocks) would indicate that selectively attending to an object results in the preferential processing of its constituent features even when they are presented in ignored sensory modalities. Understanding how these multisensory attentional processes work in healthy subjects will ultimately allow us to consider how they may breakdown in clinical groups such as persons with schizophrenia and autism. Attentional deficits are considered a hallmark of schizophrenia; and a popular theory of autism at present is that it is a "sensory integration" disorder, though little empirical data has been collected toward testing this theory. Project Narrative: Year one: Experiments 1a and 1b are programmed and ready to be run on the same set of subjects. The first step then will be to recruit subjects, and begin data collection for Experiments 1a and 1b. Within the course of the year the full dataset will be collected and fully processed. This includes the statistical analysis of the data and source modeling of the selective attention effects across the different conditions. These data will then be presented at scientific meetings such as CNS and the international multisensory research forum (IMRF), and I will begin to work on reports for submission to peer review journals. [unreadable] [unreadable] [unreadable]
Effective start/end date5/1/071/30/09


  • Medicine(all)
  • Speech and Hearing
  • Neuroscience(all)


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