The ability to perceive and integrate multimodal information is fundamental to perception, cognition, and action. How the individual sensory modalities relate to one another and how their functions are integrated during early development have received increasing research attention in psychology, psychobiology, and the neurosciences. Studies that manipulate the amount, type, and timing of sensory experience during prenatal and early postnatal development are difficult to undertake with human fetuses and infants and a comparative approach utilizing animal embryos and infants offers a useful step in experimentally examining these important topics. Evidence derived from avian and mammalian species has consistently demonstrated that there are differential effects of unimodal and multimodal stimulation on neural, physiological, and behavioral responsiveness during early development. The basis and mechanisms for these effects remain relatively unexplored. The primary goals of this proposed research are to study how unimodal and multimodal sensory experience serves to maintain, facilitate, or interfere with the usual course of intersensory development and to determine the role of intersensory redundancy in guiding and constraining early attentional, perceptual, and learning abilities. Behavioral and physiological evidence obtained from quail embryos and infants in my lab has suggested that the spatially coordinated and temporally synchronous presentation of the same information across two or more senses (intersensory redundancy) can selectively recruit attention and facilitate perceptual learning during the perinatal period. This competing continuation proposal is designed to further explore this facilitative effect of intersensory redundancy and its implications for unimodal and multimodal functioning.
Five Specific Aims will focus on the effects of redundancy on (1) selective attention, (2) generalization of learning, (3) memory, (4) behavioral and physiological arousal, and (5) sensitivity to temporal and spatial properties of multimodal stimulation. This program of research will contribute to a better understanding of the complex relationship between prenatal and postnatal ontogeny by providing a core of basic behavioral and physiological data on the arousal, attentional, and experiential processes that contribute to the emergence and maintenance of intersensory perception.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Biobehavioral Regulation, Learning and Ethology Study Section (BRLE)
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Freund, Lisa S
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Florida International University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Lickliter, Robert; Bahrick, Lorraine E (2013) The concept of homology as a basis for evaluating developmental mechanisms: exploring selective attention across the life-span. Dev Psychobiol 55:76-83
Harshaw, Christopher; Lickliter, Robert (2011) Biased embryos: Prenatal experience alters the postnatal malleability of auditory preferences in bobwhite quail. Dev Psychobiol 53:291-302
Lickliter, Robert (2011) The integrated development of sensory organization. Clin Perinatol 38:591-603
Bahrick, Lorraine E; Lickliter, Robert; Castellanos, Irina et al. (2010) Increasing task difficulty enhances effects of intersensory redundancy: testing a new prediction of the Intersensory Redundancy Hypothesis. Dev Sci 13:731-7
Schneider, Susan M; Lickliter, Robert (2010) Choice in quail neonates: the origins of generalized matching. J Exp Anal Behav 94:315-26
Jaime, Mark; Lopez, Juan Pablo; Lickliter, Robert (2009) Bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) hatchlings track the direction of human gaze. Anim Cogn 12:559-65
Schneider, Susan M; Lickliter, Robert (2009) Operant generalization of auditory tempo in quail neonates. Psychon Bull Rev 16:145-9
Bertin, Aline; Richard-Yris, Marie-Annick; Mostl, Erich et al. (2009) Increased yolk testosterone facilitates prenatal perceptual learning in Northern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus). Horm Behav 56:416-22
Harshaw, Christopher; Tourgeman, Isaac P; Lickliter, Robert (2008) Stimulus contingency and the malleability of species-typical auditory preferences in Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) hatchlings. Dev Psychobiol 50:460-72
Lickliter, Robert (2008) The Growth of Developmental Thought: Implications for a New Evolutionary Psychology. New Ideas Psychol 26:353-369

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