What You See Is What You Hear: Sounds Alter the Contents of Visual Perception

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • JR Williams - (Author)
  • YA Markov - (Author)
  • NA Tiurina - , Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) (Author)
  • VS Störmer - (Author)


Visual object recognition is not performed in isolation but depends on prior knowledge and context. Here, we found that auditory context plays a critical role in visual object perception. Using a psychophysical task in which naturalistic sounds were paired with noisy visual inputs, we demonstrated across two experiments (young adults; ns = 18–40 in Experiments 1 and 2, respectively) that the representations of ambiguous visual objects were shifted toward the visual features of an object that were related to the incidental sound. In a series of control experiments, we found that these effects were not driven by decision or response biases (ns = 40–85) nor were they due to top-down expectations (n = 40). Instead, these effects were driven by the continuous integration of audiovisual inputs during perception itself. Together, our results demonstrate that the perceptual experience of visual objects is directly shaped by naturalistic auditory context, which provides independent and diagnostic information about the visual world. © The Author(s) 2022.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2109–2122
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022
Externally publishedYes

External IDs

PubMed 36179072
Scopus 85139205085