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Michael D. Richards, Herbert C. Goltz, Agnes M. F. Wong; Optimal Audiovisual Integration in the Ventriloquism Effect But Pervasive Deficits in Unisensory Spatial Localization in Amblyopia. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(1):122-131. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.17-22504.
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Classically understood as a deficit in spatial vision, amblyopia is increasingly recognized to also impair audiovisual multisensory processing. Studies to date, however, have not determined whether the audiovisual abnormalities reflect a failure of multisensory integration, or an optimal strategy in the face of unisensory impairment. We use the ventriloquism effect and the maximum-likelihood estimation (MLE) model of optimal integration to investigate integration of audiovisual spatial information in amblyopia.
Participants with unilateral amblyopia (n = 14; mean age 28.8 years; 7 anisometropic, 3 strabismic, 4 mixed mechanism) and visually normal controls (n = 16, mean age 29.2 years) localized brief unimodal auditory, unimodal visual, and bimodal (audiovisual) stimuli during binocular viewing using a location discrimination task. A subset of bimodal trials involved the ventriloquism effect, an illusion in which auditory and visual stimuli originating from different locations are perceived as originating from a single location. Localization precision and bias were determined by psychometric curve fitting, and the observed parameters were compared with predictions from the MLE model.
Spatial localization precision was significantly reduced in the amblyopia group compared with the control group for unimodal visual, unimodal auditory, and bimodal stimuli. Analyses of localization precision and bias for bimodal stimuli showed no significant deviations from the MLE model in either the amblyopia group or the control group.
Despite pervasive deficits in localization precision for visual, auditory, and audiovisual stimuli, audiovisual integration remains intact and optimal in unilateral amblyopia.
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