The long-term objective of the proposed work is to provide the first comprehensive view of how multisensory function changes across lifespan. Emerging literature suggests a surprisingly long development process leading up to the mature multisensory state, and intriguingly that multisensory function in later life may compensate to some degree for age-related loss of acuity within the individual senses. In addition to being the first project to detail these changes across lifespan, the work will provide important windows into individual variability in multisensory function, and how certain domains of multisensory function map onto other domains (e.g., spatial vs. temporal function). Finally, the work seeks to detail relationships between multisensory abilities and higher cognitive processes, given that cognition is grounded in both the integrity of the information contained within the incoming sensory streams and the integration between these streams. The experimental approach will employ a sophisticated battery of tasks to assess and relate multisensory and cognitive function. The proposed studies are oriented around two specific aims. The first is to characterize multisensory function in individuals ranging in age from 5 to 85. The second is to relate performance on our battery of multisensory tasks to performance on well-established cognitive tasks that index domains such as attention and working memory. Collectively these studies are predicated on the framework that multisensory function will change in systematic ways across lifespan, and that these changes will have important relationships to cognition. The significance of work lay in its potential to establish these relationships, which will have important implications for furtherig our understanding of the maturation and aging of perceptual and cognitive representations - issues of powerful

Public Health Relevance

from both the normal and clinical perspectives. The innovation of the work lay not only in the conceptual realm in being the first to systematically address these questions, but also in the technical realm in building a sophisticated battery of (multi)sensory and cognitive tests to explore age-related changes in each as well as their interrelationship. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: The proposed research seeks to characterize multisensory processing across lifespan, studying individuals from ages 5-85. The work will employ a battery of psychophysical tasks to assess multisensory function and its relationship to cognitive abilities with an emphasis on individual differences as well as on correlations across the various tested domains. The overarching goals of the project are to better understand how multisensory abilities change across lifespan, and to gain critical insights into how multisensory processes shape cognition and cognitive capacity.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
Program Officer
Horowitz, Todd S
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Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Stevenson, Ryan A; Siemann, Justin K; Schneider, Brittany C et al. (2014) Multisensory temporal integration in autism spectrum disorders. J Neurosci 34:691-7
Wallace, Mark T; Stevenson, Ryan A (2014) The construct of the multisensory temporal binding window and its dysregulation in developmental disabilities. Neuropsychologia 64C:105-123