Multisensory decisions from self to world

Adam Zaidel, Roy Salomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Classic Bayesian models of perceptual inference describe how an ideal observer would integrate 'unisensory' measurements (multisensory integration) and attribute sensory signals to their origin(s) (causal inference). However, in the brain, sensory signals are always received in the context of a multisensory bodily state - namely, in combination with other senses. Moreover, sensory signals from both interoceptive sensing of one's own body and exteroceptive sensing of the world are highly interdependent and never occur in isolation. Thus, the observer must fundamentally determine whether each sensory observation is from an external (versus internal, self-generated) source to even be considered for integration. Critically, solving this primary causal inference problem requires knowledge of multisensory and sensorimotor dependencies. Thus, multisensory processing is needed to separate sensory signals. These multisensory processes enable us to simultaneously form a sense of self and form distinct perceptual decisions about the external world. In this opinion paper, we review and discuss the similarities and distinctions between multisensory decisions underlying the sense of self and those directed at acquiring information about the world. We call attention to the fact that heterogeneous multisensory processes take place all along the neural hierarchy (even in forming 'unisensory' observations) and argue that more integration of these aspects, in theory and experiment, is required to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of multisensory brain function. This article is part of the theme issue 'Decision and control processes in multisensory perception'.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20220335
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1886
StatePublished - 25 Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s).


  • Bayesian
  • body
  • exteroception
  • interoception
  • perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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