Integration of cues from multiple sensory channels improves our ability to sense and respond to stimuli. Cues arising from a single event may arrive at the brain asynchronously, requiring them to be "bound" in time. The perceptual asynchrony between vestibular and auditory stimuli has been reported to be several times greater than other stimulus pairs. However, these data were collected using electrically evoked vestibular stimuli, which may not provide similar results to those obtained using actual head rotations. Here, we tested whether auditory stimuli and vestibular stimuli consisting of physiologically relevant mechanical rotations are perceived with asynchronies consistent with other sensory systems. We rotated 14 normal subjects about the earth-vertical axis over a raised-cosine trajectory (0.5 Hz, peak velocity 10 deg/s) while isolated from external noise and light. This trajectory minimized any input from extravestibular sources such as proprioception. An 800-Hz, 10-ms auditory tone was presented at stimulus onset asynchronies ranging from 200 ms before to 700 ms after the onset of motion. After each trial, subjects reported whether the stimuli were "simultaneous" or "not simultaneous." The experiment was repeated, with subjects reporting whether the tone or rotation came first. After correction for the time the rotational stimulus took to reach vestibular perceptual threshold, asynchronies spanned from -41 ms (auditory stimulus leading vestibular) to 91 ms (vestibular stimulus leading auditory). These values are significantly lower than those previously reported for stimulus pairs involving electrically evoked vestibular stimuli and are more consistent with timing relationships between pairs of non-vestibular stimuli.
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