Interactive coding of visual spatial frequency and auditory amplitude-modulation rate

Emmanuel Guzman-Martinez*, Laura Ortega, Marcia Grabowecky, Julia Mossbridge, Satoru Suzuki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Spatial frequency is a fundamental visual feature coded in primary visual cortex [1, 2], relevant for perceiving textures, objects, hierarchical structures, and scenes [3-6], as well as for directing attention and eye movements [7-9]. Temporal amplitude-modulation (AM) rate is a fundamental auditory feature coded in primary auditory cortex [10-12], relevant for perceiving auditory objects, scenes, and speech [13, 14]. Spatial frequency and temporal AM rate are thus fundamental building blocks of visual and auditory perception. Recent results suggest that crossmodal interactions are commonplace across the primary sensory cortices [15-18] and that some of the underlying neural associations develop through consistent multisensory experience such as audio-visually perceiving speech, gender, and objects [19-24]. We demonstrate that people consistently and absolutely (rather than relatively) match specific auditory AM rates to specific visual spatial frequencies. We further demonstrate that this crossmodal mapping allows amplitude-modulated sounds to guide attention to and modulate awareness of specific visual spatial frequencies. Additional results show that the crossmodal association is approximately linear, based on physical spatial frequency, and generalizes to tactile pulses, suggesting that the association develops through multisensory experience during manual exploration of surfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-388
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 6 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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