Early auditory change detection implicitly facilitated by ignored concurrent visual change during a Braille reading task

Atsushi Aoyama, Tomohiro Haruyama, Shinya Kuriki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Unconscious monitoring of multimodal stimulus changes enables humans to effectively sense the external environment. Such automatic change detection is thought to be reflected in auditory and visual mismatch negativity (MMN) and mismatch negativity fields (MMFs). These are event-related potentials and magnetic fields, respectively, evoked by deviant stimuli within a sequence of standard stimuli, and both are typically studied during irrelevant visual tasks that cause the stimuli to be ignored. Due to the sensitivity of MMN/MMF to potential effects of explicit attention to vision, however, it is unclear whether multisensory co-occurring changes can purely facilitate early sensory change detection reciprocally across modalities. We adopted a tactile task involving the reading of Braille patterns as a neutral ignore condition, while measuring magnetoencephalographic responses to concurrent audiovisual stimuli that were infrequently deviated either in auditory, visual, or audiovisual dimensions; 1000-Hz standard tones were switched to 1050-Hz deviant tones and/or two-by-two standard check patterns displayed on both sides of visual fields were switched to deviant reversed patterns. The check patterns were set to be faint enough so that the reversals could be easily ignored even during Braille reading. While visual MMFs were virtually undetectable even for visual and audiovisual deviants, significant auditory MMFs were observed for auditory and audiovisual deviants, originating from bilateral supratemporal auditory areas. Notably, auditory MMFs were significantly enhanced for audiovisual deviants from about 100 ms post-stimulus, as compared with the summation responses for auditory and visual deviants or for each of the unisensory deviants recorded in separate sessions. Evidenced by high tactile task performance with unawareness of visual changes, we conclude that Braille reading can successfully suppress explicit attention and that simultaneous multisensory changes can implicitly strengthen automatic change detection from an early stage in a cross-sensory manner, at least in the vision to audition direction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-399
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of integrative neuroscience
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Sept


  • Braille reading task
  • Mismatch negativity
  • audiovisual interaction
  • awareness
  • explicit attention
  • magnetoencephalography
  • mismatch field
  • multisensory processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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