The Magnitude of the Sound-Induced Flash Illusion Does Not Increase Monotonically as a Function of Visual Stimulus Eccentricity


The sound-induced flash illusion occurs when a rapidly presented visual stimulus is accompanied by two auditory stimuli, creating the illusory percept of two visual stimuli. While much research has focused on how the temporal proximity of the audiovisual stimuli impacts susceptibility to the illusion, comparatively less research has been dedicated to investigating the impact of spatial manipulations. Here, we aimed to assess whether manipulating the eccentricity of visual flash stimuli altered the properties of the temporal binding window associated with the SIFI. Twenty participants were required to report whether they perceived one or two flashes that were concurrently presented with one or two beeps. Visual stimuli were presented at one of four different retinal eccentricities (2.5, 5, 7.5 or 10 degrees below fixation) and audiovisual stimuli were separated by one of eight stimulus-onset asynchronies. In keeping with previous findings, increasing stimulus-onset asynchrony between the auditory and visual stimuli led to a marked decrease in susceptibility to the illusion allowing us to estimate the width and amplitude of the temporal binding window. However, varying the eccentricity of the visual stimulus had no effect on either the width or the peak amplitude of the temporal binding window, with a similar pattern of results observed for both the “fission” and “fusion” variants of the illusion. Thus, spatial manipulations of the audiovisual stimuli used to elicit the SIFI appear to have a weaker effect on the integration of sensory signals than temporal manipulations, a finding which has implications for neuroanatomical models of multisensory integration.