Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
In the present study, we investigated the possibility that bimodal audiovisual stimulation of the affected hemifield can improve perception of the visual events in the blind hemifield of hemianopic patients, as it was previously demonstrated in neglect patients. Moreover, it has been shown that “hetero-modal” and “sensory-specific” cortices are involved in cross-modal integration. Thus, the second aim of the present study was to examine whether audiovisual integration influences visual detection in patients with different cortical lesions responsible of different kinds of visual disorders. More specifically, we investigated cross-modal, audiovisual integration in patients with visual impairment due to a visual field deficit (e.g., hemianopia) or visuospatial attentional deficit (e.g., neglect) and patients with both hemianopia and neglect. Patients were asked to detect visual stimuli presented alone or in combination with auditory stimuli that could be spatially aligned or not with the visual ones. The results showed an enhancement of visual detection in cross-modal condition (spatially aligned condition) comparing to unimodal visual condition only in patients with hemianopia or neglect; by contrast, the multi-sensory integration did not occur when patients presented both deficits. These data suggest that patients with visual disorders can enormously benefit the multisensory integration. Moreover, they showed a different influence of cortical lesion on multi-sensory integration. Thus, the present results show the important adaptive meaning of multisensory integration and are very promising with respect to the possibility of recovery from visual and spatial impairments.