Age-Related Changes in Temporal Binding Involving Auditory and Vestibular Inputs

Alexander K. Malone, Michelle E. Hungerford, Spencer B. Smith, Nai Yuan N. Chang, Rosalie M. Uchanski, Yong Hee Oh, Richard F. Lewis, Timothy E. Hullar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Maintaining balance involves the combination of sensory signals from the visual, vestibular, proprioceptive, and auditory systems. However, physical and biological constraints ensure that these signals are perceived slightly asynchronously. The brain only recognizes them as simultaneous when they occur within a period of time called the temporal binding window (TBW). Aging can prolong the TBW, leading to temporal uncertainty during multisensory integration. This effect might contribute to imbalance in the elderly but has not been examined with respect to vestibular inputs. Here, we compared the vestibular-related TBW in 13 younger and 12 older subjects undergoing 0.5 Hz sinusoidal rotations about the earth-vertical axis. An alternating dichotic auditory stimulus was presented at the same frequency but with the phase varied to determine the temporal range over which the two stimuli were perceived as simultaneous at least 75% of the time, defined as the TBW. The mean TBW among younger subjects was 286 ms (SEM ± 56 ms) and among older subjects was 560 ms (SEM ± 52 ms). TBW was related to vestibular sensitivity among younger but not older subjects, suggesting that a prolonged TBW could be a mechanism for imbalance in the elderly person independent of changes in peripheral vestibular function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-122
Number of pages13
JournalSeminars in Hearing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 16 2024


  • labyrinth/physiology
  • motion perception
  • proprioception/physiology
  • reaction time
  • rotation
  • sensory thresholds/physiology
  • time factors
  • vestibule


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