Information theoretic complexity affects multisensory perception

Cameron T. Ellis, Nicholas B. Turk-Browne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Visual and auditory inputs vary in complexity. For example, driving in a city versus on a highway, and listening to the radio versus not. How does such complexity impact our ability to detect perceptual changes, both within and across modalities? Complexity might overwhelm our capacity with information, reducing sensitivity. Alternatively, complexity might afford richer and more distinctive representations, increasing sensitivity. To test this, 24 participants watched short movie clips that varied in visual and audio complexity (operationalized as the inverse of lossless compressibility) and were required to detect degradations in the quality of these clips. Observers were better at detecting changes within video or audio movie tracks that had greater complexity. Moreover, audio complexity increased sensitivity to video changes, but not vice versa. Overall this indicates that information theoretic concepts like complexity are relevant to the human perceptual system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)825-829
Number of pages5
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 9 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


  • Object perception
  • complexity
  • dynamic stimuli
  • information Theory
  • multisensory


Dive into the research topics of 'Information theoretic complexity affects multisensory perception'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this