Our experience with the world commonly involves physical interaction with objects enabling us to learn associations between multisensory information perceived during an event and our actions that create an event. The interplay among active interactions during learning and multisensory integration of object properties is not well understood. To better understand how action might enhance multisensory associative recognition, we investigated the interplay among motor and perceptual systems after active learning. Fifteen participants were included in an fMRI study during which they learned visuo-auditory-motor associations between novel objects and the sounds they produce, either through self-generated actions on the objects (active learning) or by observing an experimenter produce the actions (passive learning). Immediately after learning, behavioral and BOLD fMRI measures were collected while perceiving the objects used during unisensory and multisensory training in associative perception and recognition tasks. Active learning was faster and led to more accurate recognition of audiovisual associations than passive learning. Functional ROI analyses showed that in motor, somatosensory, and cerebellar regions there was greater activation during both the perception and recognition of actively learned associations. Finally, functional connectivity between visual- and motor-related processing regions was enhanced during the presentation of actively learned audiovisual associations. Overall, the results of the current study clarify and extend our own previous work [Butler, A. J., James, T. W., & Harman James, K. Enhanced multisensory integration and motor reactivation after active motor learning of audiovisual associations. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23, 3515–3528, 2011] by providing several novel findings and highlighting the task-based nature of motor reactivation and retrieval after active learning.

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