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Framing visual roll-motion affects postural sway and the subjective visual vertical

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Author: Lubeck, A.J.A. · Bos, J.E. · Stins, J.F.
Type:article
Date:2016
Source:Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 41
Identifier: 574770
doi: doi:10.3758/s13414-016-1150-3
Keywords: Biology · Postural control · Subjective visual vertical · Visually induced motion sickness · Perception of verticality · Optic flow · Roll-motion · Human & Operational Modelling · PCS - Perceptual and Cognitive Systems · ELSS - Earth, Life and Social Sciences

Abstract

Effects of visual roll-motion on postural sway and the subjective visual vertical (SVV) often is studied using mechanical devices, whereas electronic displays offer cheaper and more flexible alternatives. These devices typically emit and reflect light scattered by the edges of the screen, providing Earth-fixed cues of verticality. These cues may decrease the effects of rotating stimuli, a possibility that has not been studied explicitly before in one experimental design. We exposed 16 participants to a visual dot pattern, either stationary, or rotating in roll, that was or was not surrounded by a visible Earth-fixed reference frame. To eliminate unintended visual cues, the experiment was performed in complete darkness and participants wore neutral density goggles passing only 1% of light. Postural sway was measured using a force platform. SVV measurements were obtained from a visible rod. To monitor the participants, motion sickness severity was obtained with an 11-point rating scale. Results showed that the presence of an Earth-fixed frame significantly decreased the effect of the rotating pattern on postural sway and SVV deviations. Therefore, when studying subjective verticality related effects of visual stimuli, it is imperative that all visual Earth-fixed cues are not just minimized but completely eliminated. The observation that an Earth-fixed frame significantly decreased the effect of the rotating pattern on both postural sway and the SVV points towards a common neural origin, possibly involving a neural representation of verticality. Finally, we showed that an electronic screen can yield similar effect sizes as those taken from the literature using mechanical devices.