Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
The auditory and visual perception systems have developed special processing strategies for ecologically valid motion stimuli, utilizing some of the statistical properties of the real world. A well-known example is the perception of biological motion, for example, the perception of a human walker. The aim of the current study was to identify the cortical network involved in the integration of auditory and visual biological motion signals. We first determined the cortical regions of auditory and visual coactivation (Experiment 1); a conjunction analysis based on unimodal brain activations identified four regions: middle temporal area, inferior parietal lobule, ventral premotor cortex, and cerebellum. The brain activations arising from bimodal motion stimuli (Experiment 2) were then analyzed within these regions of coactivation. Auditory footsteps were presented concurrently with either an intact visual point-light walker (biological motion) or a scrambled point-light walker; auditory and visual motion in depth (walking direction) could either be congruent or incongruent. Our main finding is that motion incongruency (across modalities) increases the activity in the ventral premotor cortex, but only if the visual point-light walker is intact. Our results extend our current knowledge by providing new evidence consistent with the idea that the premotor area assimilates information across the auditory and visual modalities by comparing the incoming sensory input with an internal representation.