Effects of Sound Frequency on Audiovisual Integration: An Event-Related Potential Study

<div><p>A combination of signals across modalities can facilitate sensory perception. The audiovisual facilitative effect strongly depends on the features of the stimulus. Here, we investigated how sound frequency, which is one of basic features of an auditory signal, modulates audiovisual integration. In this study, the task of the participant was to respond to a visual target stimulus by pressing a key while ignoring auditory stimuli, comprising of tones of different frequencies (0.5, 1, 2.5 and 5 kHz). A significant facilitation of reaction times was obtained following audiovisual stimulation, irrespective of whether the task-irrelevant sounds were low or high frequency. Using event-related potential (ERP), audiovisual integration was found over the occipital area for 0.5 kHz auditory stimuli from 190–210 ms, for 1 kHz stimuli from 170–200 ms, for 2.5 kHz stimuli from 140–200 ms, 5 kHz stimuli from 100–200 ms. These findings suggest that a higher frequency sound signal paired with visual stimuli might be early processed or integrated despite the auditory stimuli being task-irrelevant information. Furthermore, audiovisual integration in late latency (300–340 ms) ERPs with fronto-central topography was found for auditory stimuli of lower frequencies (0.5, 1 and 2.5 kHz). Our results confirmed that audiovisual integration is affected by the frequency of an auditory stimulus. Taken together, the neurophysiological results provide unique insight into how the brain processes a multisensory visual signal and auditory stimuli of different frequencies.</p></div>