Time course and magnitude of illusory translation perception during off-vertical axis rotation.
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SourceJournal of Neurophysiology, 95, 3, (2006), pp. 1571-1587
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC CO
SW OZ NICI CO
Journal of Neurophysiology
SubjectBiophysics; DCN 1: Perception and Action; UMCN 3.2: Cognitive neurosciences
Human spatial orientation relies on vision, somatosensory cues, and signals from the semicircular canals and the otoliths. The canals measure rotation, whereas the otoliths are linear accelerometers, sensitive to tilt and translation. To disambiguate the otolith signal, two main hypotheses have been proposed: frequency segregation and canal-otolith interaction. So far these models were based mainly on oculomotor behavior. In this study we investigated their applicability to human self-motion perception. Six subjects were rotated in yaw about an off-vertical axis (OVAR) at various speeds and tilt angles, in darkness. During the rotation, subjects indicated at regular intervals whether a briefly presented dot moved faster or slower than their perceived self-motion. Based on such responses, we determined the time course of the self-motion percept and characterized its steady state by a psychometric function. The psychophysical results were consistent with anecdotal reports. All subjects initially sensed rotation, but then gradually developed a percept of being translated along a cone. The rotation percept could be described by a decaying exponential with a time constant of about 20 s. Translation percept magnitude typically followed a delayed increasing exponential with delays up to 50 s and a time constant of about 15 s. The asymptotic magnitude of perceived translation increased with rotation speed and tilt angle, but never exceeded 14 cm/s. These results were most consistent with predictions of the canal-otolith-interaction model, but required parameter values that differed from the original proposal. We conclude that canal-otolith interaction is an important governing principle for self-motion perception that can be deployed flexibly, dependent on stimulus conditions.
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