Synchronous sounds enhance visual sensitivity without reducing target uncertainty.
Chen YC., Huang PC., Yeh SL., Spence C.
We examined the crossmodal effect of the presentation of a simultaneous sound on visual detection and discrimination sensitivity using the equivalent noise paradigm (Dosher and Lu, 1998). In each trial, a tilted Gabor patch was presented in either the first or second of two intervals embedded in dynamic 2D white noise with one of seven possible contrast levels. The results revealed that the sensitivity of participants' visual detection and discrimination performance were both enhanced by the presentation of a simultaneous sound, though only close to the noise level at which participants' target contrast thresholds started to increase with the increasing noise contrast. A further analysis of the psychometric function at this noise level revealed that the increase in sensitivity could not be explained by the reduction of participants' uncertainty regarding the onset time of the visual target. We suggest that this crossmodal facilitatory effect may be accounted for by perceptual enhancement elicited by a simultaneously-presented sound, and that the crossmodal facilitation was easier to observe when the visual system encountered a level of noise that happened to be close to the level of internal noise embedded within the system.