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Ren, Qiaoyue; Kaiser, Jakob; Marshall, Amanda C. (2022): Multisensory Integration of Anticipated Cardiac Signals with Visual Targets Affects Their Detection among Multiple Visual Stimuli. Neuroimage: 119549. ISSN 1095-9572

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Many studies have elucidated the multisensory processing of different exteroceptive signals (e.g., auditory-visual stimuli), but less is known about the multisensory integration of interoceptive signals with exteroceptive information. Here, we investigated the perceptual outcomes and electrophysiological brain mechanisms of cardio-visual integration by using participants’ electrocardiogram signals to control the color change of a visual target in dynamically changing displays. Reaction times increased when the target change coincided with strong cardiac signals
concerning the state of cardiovascular arousal (i.e., presented at the end of ventricular systole), compared to when the target change occurred at a time when cardiac arousal was relatively low (i.e., presented at the end of ventricular diastole). Moreover, the concurrence of the target change
and cardiac arousal signals modulated the event-related potentials and the beta power in an early period (~100 ms after stimulus onset), and decreased the N2pc and the beta lateralization in a later period (~200 ms after stimulus onset). Our results suggest that the multisensory integration of anticipated cardiac signals with a visual target negatively affects its detection among multiple visual stimuli, potentially by suppressing sensory processing and reducing attention toward the
visual target. This finding highlights the role of cardiac information in visual processing and furthers our understanding of the brain dynamics underlying multisensory perception involving both interoception and exteroception.

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