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Recalibration of audiovisual simultaneity

Fujisaki W, Shimojo S, Kashino M, Nishida S.


To perceive the auditory and visual aspects of a physical event as occurring simultaneously, the brain must adjust for differences between the two modalities in both physical transmission time and sensory processing time. One possible strategy to overcome this difficulty is to adaptively recalibrate the simultaneity point from daily experience of audiovisual events. Here we report that after exposure to a fixed audiovisual time lag for several minutes, human participants showed shifts in their subjective simultaneity responses toward that particular lag. This ‘lag adaptation’ also altered the temporal tuning of an auditory-induced visual illusion, suggesting that adaptation occurred via changes in sensory processing, rather than as a result of a cognitive shift while making task responses. Our findings suggest that the brain attempts to adjust subjective simultaneity across different modalities by detecting and reducing time lags between inputs that likely arise from the same physical events.