About this Research Topic
Animals, including human beings, understand events in the external world by receiving multiple sensory inputs. Signals of different sensory modalities that are detected by various types of receptors are processed in different regions in the brain. Even within a single modality such as vision, different properties (e.g. color and motion) are known to be processed separately in the brain. Although this kind of “specialized” sensory information is processed in distributed brain areas, signals originating from a single external event should finally be integrated to produce a unitary percept of the event. Furthermore, if multiple events occur simultaneously, only signals related to the same event should be selected for integration, whereas other irrelevant signals should be segregated. Since previous literature has mainly focused on the specialized information processing for each modality or property, it is still less clear how the brain determines the “relationship” between different types of information. In this research topic, we aim to examine how multisensory signals are integrated or segregated, and also how the combinations of these signals are selected. The ultimate goal of the topic is to propose a general rule that the brain follows to determine the relationship between multiple types of information. Here are some example questions that this Research Topic would cover:
1) Multisensory signals are first input via various receptors and processed independently. This topic includes questions about how multisensory signals are integrated or segregated, and how the way of integration or segregation is affected by past experiences.
2) Different types of information are processed in separate brain regions or pathways. For example, dorsal and ventral visual pathways are classically known to serve different processes. Association between different types of information is critical especially when multiple events occur in the external world. This is because there are multiple possible associative combinations in this case. This topic includes questions about how the association between different properties within a single modality (e.g., “what”, “when”, and “where”) are formed, and how its manner changes depending on past experiences.
3) Actions produce outcomes, and the outcomes provide sensory signals. This topic also includes the association between action-related signals (e.g., motor command, intention) and the sensory signals of their outcomes.
4) Reward-based learning is providing another series of hot topics in the recent neuroscience literature. The other type of information that could be taken into account thus is the value. The mechanisms similar to those involved in the integration of multisensory information may also be contributing to reward-based learning. Mathematical frameworks such as the Bayesian integration theory or the signal detection theory could be a key to better understanding this specific form of learning.
This Research Topic will focus on the mechanisms by which the relationship between multiple types of information are processed (rather than specialized mechanisms for processing a single type of information). Original papers using any kind of methodology (psychophysics, physiology, pharmacology, imaging, mathematical theory, and so on) and review or opinion papers are all welcome. We hope that this topic will provide an exciting opportunity to discuss novel and fanciful ideas about the processing of multiple types of information and its underlying neural mechanisms.
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.