Bouncing or streaming? Exploring the influence of auditory cues on the interpretation of ambiguous visual motion.
Sanabria D., Correa A., Lupiáñez J., Spence C.
When looking at two identical objects moving toward each other on a two-dimensional visual display, two different events can be perceived: the objects can either be seen to bounce off each other, or else to stream through one another. Previous research has shown that the large bias normally seen toward the streaming percept can be modulated by the presentation of an auditory event at the moment of coincidence. However, previous behavioral research on this crossmodal effect has always relied on subjective report. In the present experiment, we used a novel experimental design to provide a more objective/implicit measure of the effect of an auditory cue on visual motion perception. In our study, two disks moved toward each other, with the point of coincidence hidden behind an occluder. When emerging from behind the occluder, the disks (one red, the other blue) could either follow the same trajectory (streaming) or else move in the opposite direction (bouncing). Participants made speeded discrimination responses regarding the side from which one of the disks emerged from behind the occluder. Participants responded more rapidly on streaming trials when no sound was presented and on bouncing trials when the sound was presented at the moment of coincidence. These results provide the first empirical demonstration of the auditory modulation of an ambiguous visual motion display using an implicit/objective behavioral measure of perception.