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Visual-Auditory Links

The auditory cortex is the portion of the brain where most of our auditory (hearing) processing occurs. Neuroscience scholarship explains this benefit in the linkage of visual stimuli being processed within the auditory cortex. According to Bizley and King (2012), “more than one quarter of the neurons associated with the auditory cortex are influenced by visual stimuli” (p. 37). They go on to state that visual stimuli enhance the processing that occurs in the auditory cortex. In particular, they state that visual inputs can increase the sensitivity and selectivity of responses to auditory information (p. 40). This is supported in other studies as well (Kajikawa et al., 2012; Kayser et al., 2012; Munhall and Vatikiotis- Bateson, 2004; and Newell, 2004). Newell suggests that auditory information complements visual information to help refine one’s understanding of the information; likewise, visual information may facilitate refinement of auditory information, as when one hears a siren from afar, and then sees a fire truck (as opposed to a police car). The visual of the fire truck helps the person understand that a fire-related emergency is occurring. Linguistic scholarship generally observes that one benefits from facial expressions (a visual stimulus) as non-verbal cues when one is speaking (auditory) to them. Bernstein, Auer, and Moore (2004), though, identify some debate regarding whether this relationship is one of convergence (facilitated by multimodal neurons—information-processing occurring at same time with same neurons) or association (neurons of two different modalities being used to process different kinds of information). They conclude that it is one of association (p. 218).

However, scholarship in neuroscience also indicates that the auditory sensory experience can affect visual perception related to other modalities, including space, time, and motion (Shams, Kamitani, and Shimojo, 2004). So, while one experiences visual information, other senses can affect how that information is perceived.

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