Altered multisensory temporal integration in obesity

Federica Scarpina, Daniele Migliorati, Paolo Marzullo, Alessandro Mauro, Massimo Scacchi, Marcello Costantini

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Eating is a multisensory behavior. The act of placing food in the mouth provides us with a variety of sensory information, including gustatory, olfactory, somatosensory, visual, and auditory. Evidence suggests altered eating behavior in obesity. Nonetheless, multisensory integration in obesity has been scantily investigated so far. Starting from this gap in the literature, we seek to provide the first comprehensive investigation of multisensory integration in obesity. Twenty male obese participants and twenty male healthy-weight participants took part in the study aimed at describing the multisensory temporal binding window (TBW). The TBW is defined as the range of stimulus onset asynchrony in which multiple sensory inputs have a high probability of being integrated. To investigate possible multisensory temporal processing deficits in obesity, we investigated performance in two multisensory audiovisual temporal tasks, namely simultaneity judgment and temporal order judgment. Results showed a wider TBW in obese participants as compared to healthy-weight controls. This holds true for both the simultaneity judgment and the temporal order judgment tasks. An explanatory hypothesis would regard the effect of metabolic alterations and low-grade inflammatory state, clinically observed in obesity, on the temporal organization of brain ongoing activity, which one of the neural mechanisms enabling multisensory integration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28382
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - Jun 21 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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