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Multisensory perception and decision-making with a new sensory skill

Negen, J; Bird, L; Slater, H; Thaler, L; Nardini, M

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J Negen

H Slater


It is clear that people can learn a new sensory skill – a new way of mapping sensory inputs onto world states. It remains unclear how flexibly a new sensory skill can become embedded in multisensory perception and decision-making. To address this, we trained typically-sighted participants (N=12) to use a new echo-like auditory cue to distance in a virtual world, together with a noisy visual cue. Using model-based analyses, we tested for key markers of efficient multisensory perception and decision-making with the new skill. We found that twelve of fourteen participants learned to judge distance using the novel auditory cue. Their use of this new sensory skill showed three key features: (1) it enhanced the speed of timed decisions; (2) it largely resisted interference from a simultaneous digit span task; and (3) it integrated with vision in a Bayes-like manner to improve precision. We also show some limits following this relatively short training: precision benefits were lower than the Bayesoptimal prediction, and there was no forced fusion of signals. We conclude that people already embed new sensory skills in flexible multisensory perception and decision-making after a short training period. A key application of these insights is to the development of sensory augmentation systems that can enhance human perceptual abilities in novel ways. The limitations we reveal (sub-optimality, lack of fusion) provide a foundation for further investigations of the limits of these abilities and their brain basis.


Negen, J., Bird, L., Slater, H., Thaler, L., & Nardini, M. (2023). Multisensory perception and decision-making with a new sensory skill. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 49(5), 600-622.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 9, 2023
Online Publication Date Jun 1, 2023
Publication Date 2023-05
Deposit Date Jan 9, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 10, 2023
Journal Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Print ISSN 0096-1523
Electronic ISSN 1939-1277
Publisher American Psychological Association
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 49
Issue 5
Pages 600-622


Accepted Journal Article (1.4 Mb)

Copyright Statement
Open Access funding provided by Liverpool John Moores University: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0; This license permits copying and redistributing the work in any medium or format, as well as adapting the material for any purpose, even commercially.

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