A new research consortium to understand how children combine their senses to perceive and act in their world

Micah Murray, Scientific and Academic Director of The Sense Innovation and Research Center (CHUVUNIL and HES-SO Valais-Wallis), joins an international consortium to understand multisensory development in children both in the lab and in real-world contexts.

The international consortium unites the expertise in multisensory processes and child development from leading academic institutions. It is coordinated by Professor Mark Wallace (Vanderbilt University, USA) and includes Professors David Lewkowicz and Nick Turk-Browne of Yale University (USA), Professor Monica Gori of The Italian Institute of Technology (Italy), and Professor Micah Murray of The Lausanne University Hospital and University of Lausanne (Switzerland). Professor Murray serves as the founding Scientific and Academic Director of The Sense Innovation and Research Center, which is a joint venture of the Lausanne University Hospital and University of Lausanne (CHUV-UNIL) as well as The University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland Valais/Wallis (HES-SO Valais/Wallis). Professor Wallace also serves as the president of The Sense’s Scientific Advisory Board.

Prof. Murray had no hesitation when approached to join this consortium with its ambitious goal of filling the knowledge gap on how children develop their ability to appropriately combine (and segregate when necessary) information coming from the different senses. The consortium initiative is of fundamental importance as it represents the first true characterization of multisensory development. It also holds promises of significant impacts in applied, clinical, and educational fields. This longitudinal study will include a diverse group of children, including those representing the neurodivergent spectrum and coming from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in research. A further ambition will be to render the data from this consortium accessible for continued use by the scientific community.

“The consortium will propel our research out of the laboratory and into everyday environments where these multisensory processes are truly put into practice. Consequently, we will better understand the richness of the human experience,” says Professor Micah Murray.

Locally, Professor Murray leverages the expertise from among The Sense’s principal investigators and management to ensure the success of their contributions to this research consortium. Notably, the team includes Dr. Juliane Schneider, who is a neonatologist and paediatrician, Dr. Julien Favre, who is an expert in movement sciences, and Prof. Antoine Widmer, who is an expert in extended reality, as well as Prof. Olivier Lorentz, who serves as the founding Executive Director of The Sense. Such expertise complements that of Prof. Murray in the domains of multisensory processes and brain signal analysis.

Professor Murray’s research has been supported by a wide range of organizations and foundations including the Swiss National Science Foundation, The European Commission, The Leenaards Foundation, grantors advised by Carigest, The Swiss Brain League, as well as the National Institute of Health (USA). Current funding is provided through an unrestricted gift from Reality Labs Research, a division of Meta.