Neural Correlates of Auditory-Tactile Integration in Musical Meter Perception

Juan Huang, Tianxu Wu, Steven Hsiao, Xiaoqin Wang

Previously we reported that auditory and tactile inputs are seamlessly integrated to form the percept of meter in human subjects (Huang, et al. 2012). In this study, we examined the neural correlates of auditory and tactile integration in meter perception. Event Related Potentials (ERP) was recorded from 15 human subjects while they were presented with unimodal auditory, unimodal tactile or bimodal sequences. We report that the ERP signals corresponding to missing notes are similar to those induced by both the metrically important and unimportant auditory or tactile notes depending on the testing conditions. The results demonstrate that ERP can be induced without actual sensory input (either auditory or tactile) as long as the “virtual” notes are embedded in a sequence with a valid meter structure. Furthermore, the ERP components corresponding to bimodal sequences are determined by the modality of the metrically important notes, but not the physical sensory properties of the notes. The shape of ERP induced by tactile notes in a sequence could be auditory ERP as long as the metrical important notes were auditory stimulation, and vice versa. These results demonstrate neural correlates of auditory and tactile integration of meter perception. Our findings further suggest that either auditory or tactile modality can play a dominant role in the processing of meter information.