Interactions between multisensory integration and attention were studied using a combined audiovisual streaming design and a rapid serial visual presentation paradigm. Event-related potentials (ERPs) following audiovisual objects (AV) were compared with the sum of the ERPs following auditory (A) and visual objects (V). Integration processes were expressed as the difference between these AV and (A + V) responses and were studied while attention was directed to one or both modalities or directed elsewhere. Results show that multisensory integration effects depend on the multisensory objects being fully attended—that is, when both the visual and auditory senses were attended. In this condition, a superadditive audiovisual integration effect was observed on the P50 component. When unattended, this effect was reversed; the P50 components of multisensory ERPs were smaller than the unisensory sum. Additionally, we found an enhanced late frontal negativity when subjects attended the visual component of a multisensory object. This effect, bearing a strong resemblance to the auditory processing negativity, appeared to reflect late attention-related processing that had spread to encompass the auditory component of the multisensory object. In conclusion, our results shed new light on how the brain processes multisensory auditory and visual information, including how attention modulates multisensory integration processes.
Talsma, D., Doty, T. J., & Woldorff, M. G. (2007). Selective Attention and Audiovisual Integration: Is Attending to Both Modalities a Prerequisite for Early Integration? Cerebral cortex, 17(3), 679-690. https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhk016