Recent studies have revealed how attention operates across modalities and affects the detection of, the orientation to, and the perceptual localization of, stimuli. In contrast, the attentional modulation of cross-modal event perception is relatively unexplored. This chapter investigates the involvement of attentional process in cross-modal event perception using an ambiguous motion display. Two identical visual targets moving across each other can be perceived either to bounce offor to stream through each other. A brief sound at the moment the targets coincide was shown to bias perception toward bouncing. The investigations in this regard revealed that auditory, tactile, and visual transients all bias perception toward bouncing when coincident with the visual crossing. This implies the possibility that automatic shifts of cross-modal attention from the moving stimuli to the sensory transient mediate the disambiguation of the streaming/bouncing motion display. Further experiments directly manipulating endogenous attention supported this attention account. The streaming percept arises when attentional resource is available around the moment of the visual coincidence and the bouncing percept results from the lack of attentional resource. Thus, dynamic allocation of cross-modal attentional resource can mediate cross-modal event perception.
ASJC Scopus subject areas