Pre-conference workshop: Visual mismatch negativity
Tuesday, Sep 8, 2015
SKH Z005

Predicting visual stimuli by auditory sequence regularities

Dagmar Müller1, Katja Saupe2, & Erich Schröger2

1Institut für Psychologie, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
2Institute of Psychology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany

Naturalistic objects are often characterized by both visual and auditory features. However, in everyday situations it happens frequently that our senses receive signals from only one of the two modalities, e.g. we hear the engine of a moving motorbike although it is hidden by a parked bus. In the present experiment, we investigated whether regularities established within a sequence of auditory stimuli generate predictions about the spatial position of a moving visual target stimulus. In our design the pitch of seven successive tones was linked to the vertical position of a visual stimulus moving stepwise rightwards across the screen. Crucially, some of the moving steps were hidden by an occluder. In different intermixed trials occurring equiprobably we varied the predictability of the spatial position of the visual target by playing the auditory sequence in either a regular vs. an irregular order. In the predictable compared to the non-predictable condition participants produced significantly shorter reaction times in discriminating a non-spatial feature of the visual stimulus presented at the final spatial position. Moreover, the P1 to N1 amplitude of the visual ERP was significantly reduced in the predictable compared with the non-predictable condition. We interpret the behavioural advantage and the reduction of neural activity in the visual system as an indicator of predictions generated on the basis of auditory sequence regularities. Thus, our results stress the importance of crossmodal predictions for everyday situations.