Tiziana Vercillo


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  • Scurry, A. N., Vercillo, T., Nicholson, A., Webster, M., & Jiang, F. (2019). Aging impairs temporal sensitivity, but not perceptual synchrony, across modalities. Multisensory Research, 32(8), 671-692. doi:10.1163/22134808-20191343.


    Encoding the temporal properties of external signals that comprise multimodal events is a major factor guiding everyday experience. However, during the natural aging process, impairments to sensory processing can profoundly affect multimodal temporal perception. Various mechanisms can contribute to temporal perception, and thus it is imperative to understand how each can be affected by age. In the current study, using three different temporal order judgement tasks (unisensory, multisensory, and sensorimotor), we investigated the effects of age on two separate temporal processes: synchronization and integration of multiple signals. These two processes rely on different aspects of temporal information, either the temporal alignment of processed signals or the integration/segregation of signals arising from different modalities, respectively. Results showed that the ability to integrate/segregate multiple signals decreased with age regardless of the task, and that the magnitude of such impairment correlated across tasks, suggesting a widespread mechanism affected by age. In contrast, perceptual synchrony remained stable with age, revealing a distinct intact mechanism. Overall, results from this study suggest that aging has differential effects on temporal processing, and general impairments with aging may impact global temporal sensitivity while context-dependent processes remain unaffected.

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  • Gori, M., Vercillo, T., Sandini, G., & Burr, D. (2014). Tactile feedback improves auditory spatial localization. Frontiers in Psychology, 5: 1121. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01121.


    Our recent studies suggest that congenitally blind adults have severely impaired thresholds in an auditory spatial bisection task, pointing to the importance of vision in constructing complex auditory spatial maps (Gon etal., 2014). To explore strategies that may improve the auditory spatial sense in visually impaired people, we investigated the impact of tactile feedback on spatial auditory localization in 48 blindfolded sighted subjects. We measured auditory spatial bisection thresholds before and after training, either with tactile feedback, verbal feedback, or no feedback. Audio thresholds were first measured with a spatial bisection task: subjects judged whether the second sound of a three sound sequence was spatially closer to the first or the third sound. The tactile feedback group underwent two audio-tactile feedback sessions of 100 trials, where each auditory trial was followed by the same spatial sequence played on the subject's forearm; auditory spatial bisection thresholds were evaluated after each session. In the verbal feedback condition, the positions of the sounds were verbally reported to the subject after each feedback trial.The no feedback group did the same sequence of trials, with no feedback. Performance improved significantly only after audio-tactile feedback. The results suggest that direct tactile feedback interacts with the auditory spatial localization system, possibly by a process of cross-sensory recalibration. Control tests with the subject rotated suggested that this effect occurs only when the tactile and acoustic sequences are spatially congruent. Our results suggest that the tactile system can be used to recalibrate the auditory sense of space. These results encourage the possibility of designing rehabilitation programs to help blind persons establish a robust auditory sense of space, through training with the tactile modality.

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