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The multisensory mind: From neural mechanisms to cognition

Final Report Summary - MULTISENSORY-MIND (The multisensory mind: From neural mechanisms to cognition)

The research project Multisensory-Mind had three major objectives: (i) to study the neural mechanisms underlying multisensory integration in humans and to test a new hypothesis on the role of neural synchrony for multisensory processing, (ii) to examine the relationships between resting neurotransmitter concentrations in preselected brain areas and neural synchrony during multisensory processing, and (iii) to investigate the relationships between neural synchrony and disturbed multisensory processing in individuals with schizophrenia. The studies of the grant demonstrated that neural oscillations in the different frequency bands subserve distinct functions in bottom-up and top-down multisensory processing. A key observation is that the neurotransmitter GABA, obtained from the superior temporal sulcus - a traditional multisensory region – serves as a mediator for the relationship between gamma-band oscillations and multisensory perception. The clinical section of the grant indicated multisensory processing deficits in schizophrenia. However, these deficits were smaller than expected. Nevertheless, the data provided some evidence that aberrant neural synchrony reflects altered multisensory processing in schizophrenia. Taken together, the research project Multisensory-Mind has substantially improved our understanding of the role of neural oscillations in multisensory processing. The project has provided first evidence that the neurotransmitter GABA serves as a mediator for the link between neural oscillations and multisensory processing. Thus, pharmaceutical interventions that target the neurotransmitter GABA might help to improve multisensory processing deficits in affected individuals. The outcome of the Starting Grant provides an important cornerstone for future research on neural oscillations and multisensory processing.