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Older adults sacrifice response speed to preserve multisensory integration performance.

Jones, Samuel A. and Beierholm, Ulrik and Meijer, David and Noppeney, Uta (2019) 'Older adults sacrifice response speed to preserve multisensory integration performance.', Neurobiology of aging., 84 . pp. 148-157.


Ageing has been shown to impact multisensory perception, but the underlying computational mechanisms are unclear. For effective interactions with the environment, observers should integrate signals that share a common source, weighted by their reliabilities, and segregate those from separate sources. Observers are thought to accumulate evidence about the world’s causal structure over time until a decisional threshold is reached. Combining psychophysics and Bayesian modelling, we investigated how ageing affects audiovisual perception of spatial signals. Older and younger adults were comparable in their final localisation and common-source judgement responses under both speeded and unspeeded conditions, but were disproportionately slower for audiovisually incongruent trials. Bayesian modelling showed that ageing did not affect the ability to arbitrate between integration and segregation under either unspeeded or speeded conditions. However, modelling the within-trial dynamics of evidence accumulation under speeded conditions revealed that older observers accumulate noisier auditory representations for longer, set higher decisional thresholds, and have impaired motor speed. Older observers preserve audiovisual localisation performance, despite noisier sensory representations, by sacrificing response speed.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo until 26 August 2020.
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.
File format - PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:© 2019 This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Date accepted:17 August 2019
Date deposited:27 August 2019
Date of first online publication:26 August 2019
Date first made open access:26 August 2020

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