Visual adaptation enhances action sound discrimination

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Prolonged exposure, or adaptation, to a stimulus in one modality can bias, but also enhance, perception of a subsequent stimulus presented within the same modality. However, recent research has also found that adaptation in one modality can bias perception in another modality. Here we show a novel crossmodal adaptation effect, where adaptation to a visual stimulus enhances subsequent auditory perception. We found that when compared to no adaptation, prior adaptation to visual, auditory or audiovisual hand actions enhanced discrimination between two subsequently presented hand action sounds. Discrimination was most enhanced when the visual action ‘matched’ the auditory action. In addition, prior adaptation to a visual, auditory or audiovisual action caused subsequent ambiguous action sounds to be perceived as less like the adaptor. In contrast, these crossmodal action aftereffects were not generated by adaptation to the names of actions. Enhanced crossmodal discrimination and crossmodal perceptual aftereffects may result from separate mechanisms operating in audiovisual action sensitive neurons within perceptual systems. Adaptation induced crossmodal enhancements cannot be explained by post-perceptual responses or decisions. More generally, these results together indicate that adaptation is a ubiquitous mechanism for optimizing perceptual processing of multisensory stimuli.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalAttention, Perception & Psychophysics
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2016

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2016.


  • Action
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • visual
  • auditory
  • vision

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