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Multisensory Integration and Synaesthesia

Summer School 2015

Perception and action fundamentally depend on the integration of information originating from different sensory modalities. Our brain needs to combine inputs from different senses to make accurate judgments about what is happening in the world around us, and how to act on these events. Without this integration, brain representations would lack the qualitative richness characteristic of conscious experience. In extreme form, multisensory integration leads to synesthesia: inputs from one sensory modality gives rise to sensations in another modality, such as seeing colors in response to hearing tones in a piece of music. Research over the past decades has converged to suggest that, indeed, perception is a fundamentally multimodal phenomenon.

Neural bases

In this summer course, we will pay attention both to psychological and psychophysical manifestations of multisensory integration and synesthesia, as well as to their neural bases. Neuroanatomical substrates underlying integration will be discussed, as well as research on neurophysiological coding mechanisms, computational models and neuroimaging studies.

Topics of special interest include the genesis of multisensory interactions and synesthesia during development, the functional connectivity of brain areas mediating these interactions, and the role of electrophysiological rhythms for communication between different modalities.


  • Henry Kennedy - The Brain in Space

  • Sophie Deneve - Turning the table on population coding: The balance is the key

  • Umberto Olcese - Assistant Professor at the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam

  • Andrea Serino Center for Neuroprosthetics, EPFL, Lausanne Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università di Bologna - Intracortical circuits for multisensory integration

  • Jean Vroomen

  • Beatrice de Gelder - Bodies by ear and by eye

  • Charles Spence - Crossmodal correspondences: Looking for links between sound symbolism & synaesthesia, & their application to multisensory marketing


  • Cyriel Pennartz, Professor Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience at the University of Amsterdam
  • David Brang. Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago
  • Barry E. Stein, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy at the Wake Forest Universiry School of Medicine, where he is also Professor of Neurology
  • Romke Rouw, Assistant Professor Psychology at the University of Amsterdam
  • Chris Fetsch, Ph.D. at Howard Hughes Medical Institute & Department of Neuroscience Columbia University
  • Edward Hubbard, Assistant Professor Educational Psychology (EdPsych)

Frijda lecture

  • Marc T. Wallace, Vanderbilt Brain Institute - Development and Plasticity in Multisensory Function: From Animal Models to the Clinic


The Summer School and the associated Symposium are organized by prof. dr. Cyriel Pennartz ( Swammerdam Institute for Life Science, UvA) and Dr. Romke Rouw (Brain & Cognition Psychology Department, UvA).