cross-modal From two or more different sensory modalities. Used here to refer to (i) combinations of stimuli from different sensory modalities (e.g., a combination of light and sound) that normally evoke different subjective experiences, (ii) the spatial register among the different receptive fields of a multisensory neuron, and (iii) the spatial register among different sensory maps.
modality specific From a single sensory modality (i.e., unimodal). Used here in two forms: (i) to categorize a neuron based on the stimuli to whichit can respond (e.g., a neuron responsive only to light would be a modality-specific neuron) and (ii) to categorize a particular neuronal response regardless of the type of neuron from which it is evoked (e.g., a response to light, even in a multisensory neuron, is a modality-specific response).
multisensory Refers to neurons that are capable of responding to stimuli from more than a single sensory modality and to the neural processes associated with these responses (e.g., multisensory integration).
multisensory integration A statistically significant difference between the number of impulses evoked from a neuron by a combination of cross-modal stimuli compared to the responses to the most effective of these stimuli individually.
qualia (singular quale) Bits of experience; used here to refer to the particular subjective impressions that are associated with a given sensory modality (e.g., hue, pitch, tickle, and itch).
receptive field The area in space (or on the body) in which a stimulus can evoke a response from a particular neuron.
topographic Used here to define a systematic arrangement of the components of a sensory or motor representation in the brain (e.g., the arrangement of the visual receptive fields into a map of visual space).
Multisensory integration refers to the brain's ability to synthesize the information that it derives from two or more senses. There are a number of other terms in use, such as cross-modal integration and intersensory integration, but all refer to the same phenomenon. The longstanding interest in the underlying neural mechanisms by which multisensory integration is accomplished is due, in large part, to its remarkably robust perceptual and behavioral products, products which cannot be understood by dealing with the senses as independent of one another. The present discussion will use the individual multisensory neuron in the midbrain as a model, and will focus on how its responses are altered in predictable ways by converging inputs from the visual, auditory and somatosen-sory modalities.
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