Widmann, A., Gruber, T., Kujala, T., Tervaniemi, M., & Schröger, E. (2007). Binding Symbols and Sounds: Evidence from Event-Related Oscillatory Gamma-Band Activity. Cerebral Cortex, 17(11), 2696-2702.

Binding Symbols and Sounds: Evidence from Event-Related Oscillatory Gamma-Band Activity

The present study intended to examine the neural basis of audiovisual integration, hypothetically achieved by synchronized gamma-band oscillations (30-80 Hz) that have been suggested to integrate stimulus features and top-down information. To that end, we studied the impact of visual symbolic information on early auditory sensory processing of upcoming sounds. In particular, we used a symbol-to-sound-matching paradigm in which simple score-like patterns predict corresponding sound patterns. Occasionally, a single sound is incongruent with the corresponding element of the visual pattern. In response to expected sounds congruent with the corresponding visual symbol, a power increase of phase-locked (evoked) activity in the 40-Hz band was observed peaking 42-ms poststimulus onset. Thus, for the first time, we demonstrated that the comparison process between a neural model, the expectation, and the current sensory input is implemented at very early levels of auditory processing. Subsequently, expected congruent sounds elicited a broadband power increase of non-phase-locked (induced) activity peaking 152-ms poststimulus onset, which might reflect the formation of a unitary event representation including both visual and auditory aspects of the stimulation. Gamma-band responses were not present for unexpected incongruent sounds. A model explaining the anticipatory activation of cortical auditory representations and the match of experience against expectation is presented.


Cognitive and Biological Psychology

University of Leipzig
Faculty of Biosciences, Pharmacy and Psychology
Institute of Psychology
Neumarkt 9-19
D-04109 Leipzig


Dagmar Schrödl
Phone: +49 341 97-39570
Email: dagmar dot schroedl at uni-leipzig dot de

Dorit Thieme
Phone: +49 341 97-39540
Email: d dot thieme at uni-leipzig dot de

Fax: +49 341 97-39271