Organizing principles across the senses


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Organizing principles across the senses
De Santis L.
Murray M.M.
Clarke S.
Institution details
Université de Lausanne, Faculté de biologie et médecine
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Issued date
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REROID:R004629170; 1 vol. ill.
This thesis is composed of two main parts. The first addressed the question of whether the auditory and somatosensory systems, like their visual counterpart, comprise parallel functional pathways for processing identity and spatial attributes (so-called `what' and `where' pathways, respectively). The second part examined the independence of control processes mediating task switching across 'what' and `where' pathways in the auditory and visual modalities.
Concerning the first part, electrical neuroimaging of event-related potentials identified the spatio-temporal mechanisms subserving auditory (see Appendix, Study n°1) and vibrotactile (see Appendix, Study n°2) processing during two types of blocks of trials. `What' blocks varied stimuli in their frequency independently of their location.. `Where' blocks varied the same stimuli in their location independently of their frequency. Concerning the second part (see Appendix, Study n°3), a psychophysical task-switching paradigm was used to investigate the hypothesis that the efficacy of control processes depends on the extent of overlap between the neural circuitry mediating the different tasks at hand, such that more effective task preparation (and by extension smaller switch costs) is achieved when the anatomical/functional overlap of this circuitry is small. Performance costs associated with switching tasks and/or switching sensory modalities were measured. Tasks required the analysis of either the identity or spatial location of environmental objects (`what' and `where' tasks, respectively) that were presented either visually or acoustically on any given trial. Pretrial cues informed participants of the upcoming task, but not of the sensory modality.
- In the audio-visual domain, the results showed that switch costs between tasks were significantly smaller when the sensory modality of the task switched versus when it repeated. In addition, switch costs between the senses were correlated only when the sensory modality of the task repeated across trials and not when it switched. The collective evidence not only supports the independence of control processes mediating task switching and modality switching, but also the hypothesis that switch costs reflect competitive interterence between neural circuits that in turn can be diminished when these neural circuits are distinct.
- In the auditory and somatosensory domains, the findings show that a segregation of location vs. recognition information is observed across sensory systems and that these happen around 100ms for both sensory modalities.
- Also, our results show that functionally specialized pathways for audition and somatosensation involve largely overlapping brain regions, i.e. posterior superior and middle temporal cortices and inferior parietal areas. Both these properties (synchrony of differential processing and overlapping brain regions) probably optimize the relationships across sensory modalities.
- Therefore, these results may be indicative of a computationally advantageous organization for processing spatial anal identity information.
Create date
17/06/2010 12:47
Last modification date
20/08/2019 15:25
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