Most ecologically natural sensory inputs are not limited to a single modality. While it is possible to use real ecological materials as experimental stimuli to investigate the neural basis of multi-sensory experience, parametric control of such tokens is limited. By using artificial bimodal stimuli composed of approximations to ecological signals, we aim to observe the interactions between putatively relevant stimulus attributes. Here we use MEG as an electrophysiological tool and employ as a measure the steady-state response (SSR), an experimental paradigm typically applied to unimodal signals. In this experiment we quantify the responses to a bimodal audio-visual signal with different degrees of temporal (phase) congruity, focusing on stimulus properties critical to audiovisual speech. An amplitude modulated auditory signal ('pseudo-speech') is paired with a radius-modulated ellipse ('pseudo-mouth'), with the envelope of low-frequency modulations occurring in phase or at offset phase values across modalities.We observe (i) that it is possible to elicit an SSR to bimodal signals; (ii) that bimodal signals exhibit greater response power than unimodal signals; and (iii) that the SSR power at specific harmonics and sensors differentially reflects the congruity between signal components. Importantly, we argue that effects found at the modulation frequency and second harmonic reflect differential aspects of neural coding of multisensory signals. The experimental paradigm facilitates a quantitative characterization of properties of multi-sensory speech and other bimodal computations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Clinical Neurology