Multisensory Oddity Detection as Bayesian Inference
A key goal for the perceptual system is to optimally combine information from all the senses that may be available in order to develop the most accurate and unified picture possible of the outside world. The contemporary theoretical framework of ideal observer maximum likelihood integration (MLI) has been highly successful in modelling how the human brain combines information from a variety of different sensory modalities. However, in various recent experiments involving multisensory stimuli of uncertain correspondence, MLI breaks down as a successful model of sensory combination. Within the paradigm of direct stimulus estimation, perceptual models which use Bayesian inference to resolve correspondence have recently been shown to generalize successfully to these cases where MLI fails. This approach has been known variously as model inference, causal inference or structure inference. In this paper, we examine causal uncertainty in another important class of multi-sensory perception paradigm – that of oddity detection and demonstrate how a Bayesian ideal observer also treats oddity detection as a structure inference problem. We validate this approach by showing that it provides an intuitive and quantitative explanation of an important pair of multi-sensory oddity detection experiments – involving cues across and within modalities – for which MLI previously failed dramatically, allowing a novel unifying treatment of within and cross modal multisensory perception. Our successful application of structure inference models to the new ‘oddity detection’ paradigm, and the resultant unified explanation of across and within modality cases provide further evidence to suggest that structure inference may be a commonly evolved principle for combining perceptual information in the brain.