MEG Reading Group

Auditory Cortex Tracks Both Auditory and Visual Stimulus Dynamics Using Low-Frequency Neuronal Phase Modulation

Luo H, Liu Z, Poeppel D (2010) Auditory Cortex Tracks Both Auditory and Visual Stimulus Dynamics Using Low-Frequency Neuronal Phase Modulation. PLoS Biol 8(8): e1000445. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000445 Abstract: Integrating information across sensory domains to construct a unified representation of multi-sensory signals is a fundamental characteristic of perception in ecological contexts. One provocative hypothesis deriving from neurophysiology suggests that there exists early and direct cross-modal phase modulation. We provide evidence, based on magnetoencephalography (MEG) recordings from participants viewing audiovisual movies, that low-frequency neuronal information lies at the basis of the synergistic coordination of information across auditory and visual streams. In particular, the phase of the 2–7 Hz delta and theta band responses carries robust (in single trials) and usable information (for parsing the temporal structure) about stimulus dynamics in both sensory modalities concurrently. These experiments are the first to show in humans that a particular cortical mechanism, delta-theta phase modulation across early sensory areas, plays an important “active” role in continuously tracking naturalistic audio-visual streams, carrying dynamic multi-sensory information, and reflecting cross-sensory interaction in real time.