Causal inference in multisensory perception

Konrad P. Körding, Ulrik Beierholm*, Wei Ji Ma, Steven Quartz, Joshua B. Tenenbaum, Ladan Shams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

475 Scopus citations

Abstract

Perceptual events derive their significance to an animal from their meaning about the world, that is from the information they carry about their causes. The brain should thus be able to efficiently infer the causes underlying our sensory events. Here we use multisensory cue combination to study causal inference in perception. We formulate an ideal-observer model that infers whether two sensory cues originate from the same location and that also estimates their location(s). This model accurately predicts the nonlinear integration of cues by human subjects in two auditory-visual localization tasks. The results show that indeed humans can efficiently infer the causal structure as well as the location of causes. By combining insights from the study of causal inference with the ideal-observer approach to sensory cue combination, we show that the capacity to infer causal structure is not limited to conscious, high-level cognition; it is also performed continually and effortlessly in perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere943
JournalPloS one
Volume2
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 26 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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