Seeing Circles and Drawing Ellipses: When Sound Biases Reproduction of Visual Motion

  • Thoret Etienne
  • Aramaki Mitsuko
  • Bringoux Lionel
  • Ystad Sølvi
  • Kronland-Martinet Richard

  • Multisensory Integration
  • Action-perception
  • Biological Motion
  • Sound Synthesis


The perception and production of biological movements is characterized by the 1/3 power law, a relation linking the curvature and the velocity of an intended action. In particular, motions are perceived and reproduced distorted when their kinematics deviate from this biological law. Whereas most studies dealing with this perceptual-motor relation focused on visual or kinaesthetic modalities in a unimodal context, in this paper we show that auditory dynamics strikingly biases visuomotor processes. Biologically consistent or inconsistent circular visual motions were used in combination with circular or elliptical auditory motions. Auditory motions were synthesized friction sounds mimicking those produced by the friction of the pen on a paper when someone is drawing. Sounds were presented diotically and the auditory motion velocity was evoked through the friction sound timbre variations without any spatial cues. Remarkably, when subjects were asked to reproduce circular visual motion while listening to sounds that evoked elliptical kinematics without seeing their hand, they drew elliptical shapes. Moreover, distortion induced by inconsistent elliptical kinematics in both visual and auditory modalities added up linearly. These results bring to light the substantial role of auditory dynamics in the visuo-motor coupling in a multisensory context.