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Causal inference in multisensory perception

Körding, K.P.; Beierholm, U.; Ma, W.J.; Quartz, S.; Tenenbaum, J.B.; Shams, L.

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K.P. Körding

W.J. Ma

S. Quartz

J.B. Tenenbaum

L. Shams


Perceptual events derive their significance to an animal from their meaning about the world, that is from the information they carry about their causes. The brain should thus be able to efficiently infer the causes underlying our sensory events. Here we use multisensory cue combination to study causal inference in perception. We formulate an ideal-observer model that infers whether two sensory cues originate from the same location and that also estimates their location(s). This model accurately predicts the nonlinear integration of cues by human subjects in two auditory-visual localization tasks. The results show that indeed humans can efficiently infer the causal structure as well as the location of causes. By combining insights from the study of causal inference with the ideal-observer approach to sensory cue combination, we show that the capacity to infer causal structure is not limited to conscious, high-level cognition; it is also performed continually and effortlessly in perception.


Körding, K., Beierholm, U., Ma, W., Quartz, S., Tenenbaum, J., & Shams, L. (2007). Causal inference in multisensory perception. PLoS ONE, 2(9), Article e943.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Sep 26, 2007
Publication Date Sep 26, 2007
Deposit Date Mar 1, 2016
Publicly Available Date Sep 12, 2017
Journal PLoS ONE
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 2
Issue 9
Article Number e943


Published Journal Article (311 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
Copyright: © 2007 Körding et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

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