Multisensory integration (MSI) is necessary for the efficient execution of many everyday tasks. Alterations in sensorimotor integration (SMI) have been observed in individuals with subclinical neck pain (SCNP). Altered audiovisual MSI has previously been demonstrated in this population using performance measures, such as reaction time. However, neurophysiological techniques have not been combined with performance measures in the SCNP population to determine differences in neural processing that may contribute to these behavioral characteristics. Electroencephalography (EEG) event-related potentials (ERPs) have been successfully used in recent MSI studies to show differences in neural processing between different clinical populations. This study combined behavioral and ERP measures to characterize MSI differences between healthy and SCNP groups. EEG was recorded as 24 participants performed 8 blocks of a simple reaction time (RT) MSI task, with each block consisting of 34 auditory (A), visual (V), and audiovisual (AV) trials. Participants responded to the stimuli by pressing a response key. Both groups responded fastest to the AV condition. The healthy group demonstrated significantly faster RTs for the AV and V conditions. There were significant group differences in neural activity from 100–140 ms post-stimulus onset, with the control group demonstrating greater MSI. Differences in brain activity and RT between individuals with SCNP and a control group indicate neurophysiological alterations in how individuals with SCNP process audiovisual stimuli. This suggests that SCNP alters MSI. This study presents novel EEG findings that demonstrate MSI differences in a group of individuals with SCNP.
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