Visual and auditory cortices traditionally have been considered to be “modality-specific.” Thus, their activity has been thought to be unchanged by information in other sensory modalities. However, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the present experiments revealed that ongoing activity in the visual cortex could be modulated by auditory information and ongoing activity in the auditory cortex could be modulated by visual information. In both cases, this cross-modal modulation of activity took the form of deactivation. Yet, the deactivation response was not evident in either cortical area during the paired presentation of visual and auditory stimuli. These data suggest that cross-modal inhibitory processes operate within traditional modality-specific cortices and that these processes can be switched on or off in different circumstances.

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