Autism Journal Club

The construct of the multisensory temporal binding window and its dysregulation in developmental disabilities

Behavior, perception and cognition are strongly shaped by the synthesis of information across the different sensory modalities. Such multisensory integration often results in performance and perceptual benefits that reflect the additional information conferred by having cues from multiple senses providing redundant or complementary information. The spatial and temporal relationships of these cues provide powerful statistical information about how these cues should be integrated or "bound" in order to create a unified perceptual representation. Much recent work has examined the temporal factors that are integral in multisensory processing, with many focused on the construct of the multisensory temporal binding window - the epoch of time within which stimuli from different modalities is likely to be integrated and perceptually bound. Emerging evidence suggests that this temporal window is altered in a series of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism, dyslexia and schizophrenia. In addition to their role in sensory processing, these deficits in multisensory temporal function may play an important role in the perceptual and cognitive weaknesses that characterize these clinical disorders. Within this context, focus on improving the acuity of multisensory temporal function may have important implications for the amelioration of the "higher-order" deficits that serve as the defining features of these disorders.