Visual sensitivity is a stronger determinant of illusory processes than auditory cue parameters in the sound-induced flash illusion.
Kumpik DP., Roberts HE., King AJ., Bizley JK.
The sound-induced flash illusion (SIFI) is a multisensory perceptual phenomenon in which the number of brief visual stimuli perceived by an observer is influenced by the number of concurrently presented sounds. While the strength of this illusion has been shown to be modulated by the temporal congruence of the stimuli from each modality, there is conflicting evidence regarding its dependence upon their spatial congruence. We addressed this question by examining SIFIs under conditions in which the spatial reliability of the visual stimuli was degraded and different sound localization cues were presented using either free-field or closed-field stimulation. The likelihood of reporting a SIFI varied with the spatial cue composition of the auditory stimulus and was highest when binaural cues were presented over headphones. SIFIs were more common for small flashes than for large flashes, and for small flashes at peripheral locations, subjects experienced a greater number of illusory fusion events than fission events. However, the SIFI was not dependent on the spatial proximity of the audiovisual stimuli, but was instead determined primarily by differences in subjects' underlying sensitivity across the visual field to the number of flashes presented. Our findings indicate that the influence of auditory stimulation on visual numerosity judgments can occur independently of the spatial relationship between the stimuli.