Cross-modal effects of value on perceptual acuity and stimulus encoding

Arezoo Pooresmaeili, Thomas H B FitzGerald, Dominik R Bach, Ulf Toelch, Florian Ostendorf, Raymond J Dolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Cross-modal interactions are very common in perception. An important feature of many perceptual stimuli is their reward-predicting properties, the utilization of which is essential for adaptive behavior. What is unknown is whether reward associations in one sensory modality influence perception of stimuli in another modality. Here we show that auditory stimuli with high-reward associations increase the sensitivity of visual perception, even when sounds and reward associations are both irrelevant for the visual task. This increased sensitivity correlates with a change in stimulus representation in the visual cortex, indexed by increased multivariate decoding accuracy in simultaneously acquired functional MRI data. Univariate analysis showed that reward associations modulated responses in regions associated with multisensory processing in which the strength of modulation was a better predictor of the magnitude of the behavioral effect than the modulation in classical reward regions. Our findings demonstrate a value-driven cross-modal interaction that affects perception and stimulus encoding, with a resemblance to well-described modulatory effects of attention. We suggest that multisensory processing areas may mediate the transfer of value signals across senses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15244-15249
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2014


  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Auditory Perception
  • Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Perception
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Reward
  • Temporal Lobe
  • Vision, Ocular
  • Visual Cortex
  • Visual Perception
  • Young Adult

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