The major reference work for a rapidly advancing field synthesizes central themes, reports on current findings, and offers a blueprint for future research. Scientists' attempts to understand the physiology underlying our apprehension of the physical world was long dominated by a focus on the individual senses. The 1980s saw the beginning of systematic efforts to examine interactions among different sensory modalities at the level of the single neuron. And by the end of the 1990s, a recognizable and multidisciplinary field of "multisensory processes" had emerged. More recently, studies involving both human and nonhuman subjects have focused on relationships among multisensory neuronal ensembles and their behavioral, perceptual, and cognitive correlates. The New Handbook of Multisensory Processing synthesizes the central themes in this rapidly developing area, reports on current findings, and offers a blueprint for future research. The contributions, all of them written for this volume by leading experts, reflect the evolution and current state of the field. This handbook does more than simply review the field. Each of the volume's eleven sections broadly surveys a major topic, and each begins with a substantive and thought-provoking commentary by the section editor that identifies the major issues being explored, describes their treatment in the chapters that follow, and sets these findings within the context of the existing body of knowledge. Together, the commentaries and chapters provide an invaluable guide to areas of general agreement, unresolved issues, and topics that remain to be explored in this fast-moving field.
Barry E. Stein is Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. His previous books on this topic include The Merging of the Senses (MIT Press, 1993) and The Handbook of Multisensory Processes (MIT Press, 2004).