Auditory capture of vision: examining temporal ventriloquism.


Four experiments investigated whether irrelevant sounds can influence the perception of lights in a visual temporal order judgment task, where participants judged which of two lights appeared first. In Experiment 1, presenting a sound before the first light and after the second light improved performance relative to baseline (sounds appearing simultaneously with the lights), as if the sounds pulled the perception of lights further apart in time. Experiment 2 ruled out an alerting explanation for this effect and indicated that the performance improvement resulted from the second sound trailing the second light. Experiment 3 excluded the possibility that leading or simultaneous sounds were interfering with performance and revealed that only the second sound had an effect within the temporal window known to support multisensory integration. Experiment 4 demonstrated that sounds intervening between the two lights led to a decline in performance, as if the sounds pulled the lights closer together. The results suggest a 'temporal ventriloquism' phenomenon analogous to spatial ventriloquism.