Perception & Psychophysics

, Volume 62, Issue 2, pp 321–332

The ventriloquist effect does not depend on the direction of deliberate visual attention


    • Free University of Brussels
    • Tilburg University
  • Jean Vroomen
    • Tilburg University
  • Béatrice De Gelder
    • Free University of Brussels
    • Tilburg University
  • Jon Driver
    • University College London

DOI: 10.3758/BF03205552

Cite this article as:
Bertelson, P., Vroomen, J., De Gelder, B. et al. Perception & Psychophysics (2000) 62: 321. doi:10.3758/BF03205552


It is well known that discrepancies in the location of synchronized auditory and visual events can lead to mislocalizations of the auditory source, so-called ventriloquism. In two experiments, we tested whether such cross-modal influences on auditory localization depend on deliberate visual attention to the biasing visual event. In Experiment 1, subjects pointed to the apparent source of sounds in the presence or absence of a synchronous peripheral flash. They also monitored for target visual events, either at the location of the peripheral flash or in a central location. Auditory localization was attracted toward the synchronous peripheral flash, but this was unaffected by where deliberate visual attention was directed in the monitoring task. In Experiment 2, bilateral flashes were presented in synchrony with each sound, to provide competing visual attractors. When these visual events were equally salient on the two sides, auditory localization was unaffected by which side subjects monitored for visual targets. When one flash was larger than the other, auditory localization was slightly but reliably attracted toward it, but again regardless of where visual monitoring was required. We conclude that ventriloquism largely reflects automatic sensory interactions, with little or no role for deliberate spatial attention.

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© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2000