Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

High-Intensity Sound Increases the Size of Visually Perceived Objects

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

High-Intensity Sound Increases the Size of Visually Perceived Objects

Article excerpt

Published online: 28 November 2012

copy; Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2012

Abstract The effect of audiovisual interactions on size perception has yet to be examined, despite its fundamental importance in daily life. Previous studies have reported that object length can be estimated solely on the basis of the sounds produced when an object is dropped. Moreover, it has been shown that people typically and easily perceive the correspondence between object sizes and sound intensities. It is therefore possible that auditory stimuli may act as cues for object size, thereby altering the visual perception of size. Thus, in the present study we examined the effects of auditory stimuli on the visual perception of size. Specifically, we investigated the effects of the sound intensity of auditory stimuli, the temporal window of audiovisual interactions, and the effects of the retinal eccentricity of visual stimuli. The results indicated that high-intensity auditory stimuli increased visually perceived object size, and that this effect was especially strong in the peripheral visual field. Additional consideration indicated that this effect on the visual perception of size is induced when the cue reliability is relatively higher for the auditory than for the visual stimuli. In addition, we further suggest that the cue reliabilities of visual and auditory stimuli relate to retinal eccentricity and sound intensity, respectively.

Keywords Multisensory processing · Visual perception · Audition

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Perception of the real world depends on the integration of multisensory information (e.g., from the visual, auditory, and/ or tactile senses). In this process, the information provided by each sense is utilized optimally (Alais, Newell & Mamassian, 2010; Emst & Banks, 2002). In this way, the integration of multisensory information can reduce perceptual ambiguity (Sumby & Pollack, 1954) and increase the accuracy of per- ception. Multisensory integration is conducted in multiple, lower-to-higher stages, with the initial perception being al- tered by subsequent integration (Talsma, Senkowski, Soto- Faraco & Woldorff, 2010). Notably, this altered perception frequently differs from the physical input.

In this study, we examined audiovisual integration. Sounds (defined here simply as the information observed by the auditory sense) carry various types of information about the perceived real world. Auditory stimuli frequently alter visual perception through audiovisual interactions. For example, in the case of "flutter-driving" (Shipley, 1964), the auditory flutter rate dominates the visual flicker rate, since the temporal resolution of the auditory sense is superior to that of the visual sense. Sounds also alter the perception of motion: The pre- sentation of auditory stimuli alters the perceived trajectory of motion in a process known as "stream or bounce" (Sekuler, Sekuler & Lau, 1997). That is to say, the changing pitch (ascending or descending) of an auditory stimulus alters the perceived direction of its motion either upward or downward (Maeda, Kanai & Shimojo, 2004). Moreover, the alternation of sound locations leads to the perception of static object movement (Hidaka et al., 2009). Sounds affect the perception of velocity, as well (Kafaligonul & Stoner, 2010; Manabe & Riquimaroux, 2000; Takeshima & Gyoba, 2011).

However, the effects of auditory stimuli on the visual perception of size have not yet been thoroughly examined, although many audiovisual interactions with visual properties other than size have been vigorously examined. Size is an important property in the perception of one's surroundings. We assume that size perception can be affected by the inter- active processing of multiple sensations. Size perception is also connected with perception in other sensory domains (e.g., velocity or weight). For example, the velocity of a large object can be misperceived as slow, and that of a small one can be misperceived as fast (Brown's law: Brown, 1931). …

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