Multisensory integration of sounds and vibrotactile stimuli in processing streams for "what" and "where"

Laurent Renier, Irina Anurova, Anne De Volder, Synnöve Carlson, John VanMeter, Josef Rauschecker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The segregation between cortical pathways for the identification and localization of objects is thought of as a general organizational principle in the brain. Yet, little is known about the unimodal versus multimodal nature of these processing streams. The main purpose of the present study was to test whether the auditory and tactile dual pathways converged into specialized multisensory brain areas. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare directly in the same subjects the brain activation related to localization and identification of comparable auditory and vibrotactile stimuli. Results indicate that the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and both left and right insula were more activated during identification conditions than during localization in both touch and audition. The reverse dissociation was found for the left and right inferior parietal lobules (IPL), the left superior parietal lobule (SPL) and the right precuneus-SPL, which were all more activated during localization conditions in the two modalities. We propose that specialized areas in the right IFG and the left and right insula are multisensory operators for the processing of stimulus identity whereas parts of the left and right IPL and SPL are specialized for the processing of spatial attributes independently of sensory modality.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number35
Pages (from-to)10950-10960
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2009
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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