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Sensory Cue Combination in Children Under 10 Years of Age

Negen, James; Chere, Brittney; Bird, Laura; Taylor, Ellen; Roome, Hannah; Keenaghan, Samantha; Thaler, Lore; Nardini, Marko

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James Negen

Brittney Chere

Ellen Taylor

Hannah Roome

Samantha Keenaghan


Cue combination occurs when two independent noisy perceptual estimates are merged together as a weighted average, creating a unified estimate that is more precise than either single estimate alone. Surprisingly, this effect has not been demonstrated compellingly in children under the age of 10 years, in contrast with the array of other multisensory skills that children show even in infancy. Instead, across a wide variety of studies, precision with both cues is no better than the best single cue – and sometimes worse. Here we provide the first consistent evidence of cue combination in children from 7 to 10 years old. Across three experiments, participants showed evidence of a bimodal precision advantage (Experiments 1a and 1b) and the majority were best-fit by a combining model (Experiment 2). The task was to localize a target horizontally with a binaural audio cue and a noisy visual cue in immersive virtual reality. Feedback was given as well, which could both (a) help participants judge how reliable each cue is and (b) help correct between-cue biases that might prevent cue combination. Crucially, our results show cue combination when feedback is only given on single cues – therefore, combination itself was not a strategy learned via feedback. We suggest that children at 7–10 years old are capable of cue combination in principle, but must have sufficient representations of reliabilities and biases in their own perceptual estimates as relevant to the task, which can be facilitated through task-specific feedback.


Negen, J., Chere, B., Bird, L., Taylor, E., Roome, H., Keenaghan, S., …Nardini, M. (2019). Sensory Cue Combination in Children Under 10 Years of Age. Cognition, 193, Article 104014.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 19, 2019
Online Publication Date Jul 11, 2019
Publication Date Dec 31, 2019
Deposit Date Jun 20, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jul 11, 2020
Journal Cognition
Print ISSN 0010-0277
Electronic ISSN 1873-7838
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 193
Article Number 104014


Accepted Journal Article (743 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2019 This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license

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