Audiovisual speech perception provides an opportunity to investigate the mechanisms underlying multimodal processing. By using nonspeech stimuli, it is possible to investigate the degree to which audiovisual processing is specific to the speech domain. It has been shown in a match-to-sample design that matching across modalities is more difficult in the nonspeech domain as compared to the speech domain. We constructed a biophysically realistic neural network model simulating this experimental evidence. We propose that a stronger connection between modalities in speech underlies the behavioral difference between the speech and the nonspeech domain. This could be the result of more extensive experience with speech stimuli. Because the match-to-sample paradigm does not allow us to draw conclusions concerning the integration of auditory and visual information, we also simulated two further conditions based on the same paradigm, which tested the integration of auditory and visual information within a single stimulus. New experimental data for these two conditions support the simulation results and suggest that audiovisual integration of discordant stimuli is stronger in speech than in nonspeech stimuli. According to the simulations, the connection strength between auditory and visual information, on the one hand, determines how well auditory information can be assigned to visual information, and on the other hand, it influences the magnitude of multimodal integration.

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