About this Research Topic
Yet, this picture of brain functioning began to fade as evidence accumulated highlighting widespread ‘multisensory’ processing, with inputs from different senses becoming integrated prior to conscious perception. Current studies in multimodal emotion integration (e.g., face and voice) revealed synergistic effects at early sensory cortices as well as at higher-level association areas, which are responsible for cognitive evaluation of affective information. Similarly, perceptual learning in temporal discrimination was shown to readily transfer from one sensory modality to another. Further behavioural evidence suggests that complex events are interpreted via a continuous loop between intentions and sensory input such that, on the one hand, observers use sensory inputs to segment an event sequence into units, which in time become tied to knowledge about agents’ intentions and, on the other hand, hierarchical event schemas facilitate the perception of event structure, helping observers segment and organize their experiences.
A less hierarchical functional architecture of the brain has emerged such that, irrespective of sensory modality, inputs are allocated to the best suited cortical substrate. For example, predictions of the so-called ‘neural exploitation hypothesis’ that neural circuits initially used for a specific purpose (e.g., motor control) are being re-used for other purposes (e.g., language) have recently been confirmed with a twist. In particular, behavioural studies have provided evidence that language reflects specific characteristics of action organization in the perceptual and motor systems (e.g., chained organization) and that, in turn, language can modify these characteristics in important ways. Activation of grasp-related affordances, for instance, as when attention targets graspable parts of a perceived object, is amplified when following visual cues but not when following linguistic cues.
Our Research Topic welcomes contributions on multisensory integration and sensory adaptation encompassing all aspects of cognition, motion, and emotion.
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