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Uncovering Multisensory Processing Through NIBS

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Most of current knowledge about the mechanisms of multisensory integration of environmental

stimuli by the human brain derives from neuroimaging experiments. However, neuroimaging
studies do not always provide conclusive evidence about the causal role of a given area for
multisensory interactions, since these techniques can mainly derive correlations between
brain activations and behavior. Conversely, techniques of non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS)
represent a unique and powerful approach to inform models of causal relations between
specific brain regions and individual cognitive and perceptual functions. Although NIBS has been
widely used in cognitive neuroscience, its use in the study of multisensory processing in the
human brain appears a quite novel field of research. In this paper, we review and discuss recent
studies that have used two techniques of NIBS, namely transcranial magnetic stimulation and
transcranial direct current stimulation, for investigating the causal involvement of unisensory
and heteromodal cortical areas in multisensory processing, the effects of multisensory cues on
cortical excitability in unisensory areas, and the putative functional connections among different
cortical areas subserving multisensory interactions. The emerging view is that NIBS is an
essential tool available to neuroscientists seeking for causal relationships between a given area
or network and multisensory processes. With its already large and fast increasing usage, future
work using NIBS in isolation, as well as in conjunction with different neuroimaging techniques,
could substantially improve our understanding of multisensory processing in the human brain.

'Nuff said. Enjoy! PDF

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