A Symmetric Approach Elucidates Multisensory Information Integration

 

 
 

Tozzi A, Peters JF.  2017.  A Symmetric Approach Elucidates Multisensory Information Integration.  Information 20178(1), 4; doi:10.3390/info8010004

 
Recent advances in neuronal multisensory integration suggest that the five senses do
not exist in isolation of each other. Perception, cognition and action are integrated at very early
levels of central processing, in a densely-coupled system equipped with multisensory interactions
occurring at all temporal and spatial stages. In such a novel framework, a concept from the far-flung
branch of topology, namely the Borsuk-Ulam theorem, comes into play. The theorem states that
when two opposite points on a sphere are projected onto a circumference, they give rise to a
single point containing their matching description. Here we show that the theorem applies also
to multisensory integration: two environmental stimuli from different sensory modalities display
similar features when mapped into cortical neurons. Topological tools not only shed new light
on questions concerning the functional architecture of mind and the nature of mental states, but
also provide an empirically assessable methodology. We argue that the Borsuk-Ulam theorem is a
general principle underlying nervous multisensory integration, resulting in a framework that has the potential to be operationalized.
potential to be operationalized.Arturo Tozzi 1,* and James F. Peters 2
1 Center for Nonlinear Science, University of North Texas, 1155 Union Circle, Denton, TX 76203, USA
2 Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Manitoba, 75A Chancellor’s Circle,
Winnipeg, MB R3T 5V6, Canada; James.Peters3@umanitoba.ca
* Correspondence: tozziarturo@libero.it; Tel.: +1-39-335-844-7399
Academic Editors: Pedro C. Marijuán, Abir U. Igamberdiev and Lin Bi
Received: 6 October 2016; Accepted: 22 December 2016; Published: 27 December 2016
Abstract: Recent advances in neuronal multisensory integration suggest that the five senses do
not exist in isolation of each other. Perception, cognition and action are integrated at very early
levels of central processing, in a densely-coupled system equipped with multisensory interactions
occurring at all temporal and spatial stages. In such a novel framework, a concept from the far-flung
branch of topology, namely the Borsuk-Ulam theorem, comes into play. The theorem states that
when two opposite points on a sphere are projected onto a circumference, they give rise to a
single point containing their matching description. Here we show that the theorem applies also
to multisensory integration: two environmental stimuli from different sensory modalities display
similar features when mapped into cortical neurons. Topological tools not only shed new light
on questions concerning the functional architecture of mind and the nature of mental states, but
also provide an empirically assessable methodology. We argue that the Borsuk-Ulam theorem is a
general principle underlying nervous multisensory integration, resulting in a framework that has the
potential to be operationalized.