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Computational Characterization of Visually Induced Auditory Spatial Adaptation


Recent research investigating the principles governing human perception has provided increasing evidence for probabilistic inference in human perception. For example, human auditory and visual localization judgments closely resemble that of a Bayesian causal inference observer, where the underlying causal structure of the stimuli are inferred based on both the available sensory evidence and prior knowledge. However, most previous studies have focused on characterization of perceptual inference within a static environment, and therefore, little is known about how this inference process changes when observers are exposed to a new environment. In this study we aimed to computationally characterize the change in auditory spatial perception induced by repeated auditory-visual spatial conflict, known as the ventriloquist aftereffect. In theory, this change could reflect a shift in the auditory sensory representations (i.e., shift in auditory likelihood distribution), a decrease in the precision of the auditory estimates (i.e., increase in spread of likelihood distribution), a shift in the auditory bias (i.e., shift in prior distribution), or an increase/decrease in strength of the auditory bias (i.e., the spread of prior distribution), or a combination of these. By quantitatively estimating the parameters of the perceptual process for each individual observer using a Bayesian causal inference model, we found that the shift in the perceived locations after exposure was associated with a shift in the mean of the auditory likelihood functions in the direction of the experienced visual offset. The results suggest that repeated exposure to a fixed auditory-visual discrepancy is attributed by the nervous system to sensory representation error and as a result, the sensory map of space is recalibrated to correct the error.

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