The Complex Interplay Between Multisensory Integration and Perceptual Awareness

In: Multisensory Research
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  • 1 1Centre for the Study of the Senses, Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London, London, UK
  • | 2 2Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience, Brain Mind Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • | 3 3Department of Translational Research on New Technologies in Medicine and Surgery, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
  • | 4 4Crossmodal Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
  • | 5 5Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Robotics Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
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The integration of information has been considered a hallmark of human consciousness, as it requires information being globally available via widespread neural interactions. Yet the complex interdependencies between multisensory integration and perceptual awareness, or consciousness, remain to be defined. While perceptual awareness has traditionally been studied in a single sense, in recent years we have witnessed a surge of interest in the role of multisensory integration in perceptual awareness. Based on a recent IMRF symposium on multisensory awareness, this review discusses three key questions from conceptual, methodological and experimental perspectives: (1) What do we study when we study multisensory awareness? (2) What is the relationship between multisensory integration and perceptual awareness? (3) Which experimental approaches are most promising to characterize multisensory awareness? We hope that this review paper will provoke lively discussions, novel experiments, and conceptual considerations to advance our understanding of the multifaceted interplay between multisensory integration and consciousness.

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