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Causally linking neural dominance to perceptual dominance in a multisensory conflict

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When different senses are in conflict, one sense may dominate the perception of other sense, but it is not known whether the sensory cortex associated with the dominant modality exerts directional influence, at the functional brain level, over the sensory cortex associated with the dominated modality; in short, the link between sensory dominance and neuronal dominance is not established. In a task involving audio-visual conflict, using magnetoencephalography recordings in humans, we first demonstrated that the neuronal dominance – auditory cortex functionally influencing visual cortex – was associated with the sensory dominance – sound qualitatively altering visual perception. Further, we found that prestimulus auditory-to-visual connectivity could predict the perceptual outcome on a trial-by-trial basis. Subsequently, we performed an effective connectivity-guided neurofeedback electroencephalography experiment and showed that participants who were briefly trained to increase the neuronal dominance from auditory to visual cortex showed higher sensory, that is auditory, dominance during the conflict task immediately after the training. These results shed new light into the interactive neuronal nature of multisensory integration and open up exciting opportunities by enhancing or suppressing targeted mental functions subserved by effective connectivity.

Keywords: brain oscillations; connectivity; crossmodal; double flash illusion; multisensory; neurofeedback; neuronal causality; prestimulus

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: , , 2: ,

Publication date: July 3, 2020

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