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Perceived timing of vestibular stimulation


Barnett-Cowan,  M
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Barnett-Cowan, M. (2012). Perceived timing of vestibular stimulation. Talk presented at 13th International Multisensory Research Forum (IMRF 2012). Oxford, UK.

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Multisensory stimuli originating from the same event can be perceived asynchronously due to differential physical and neural delays. The transduction of and physiological responses to vestibular stimulation are extremely fast, suggesting that other stimuli need to be presented prior to vestibular stimulation in order to be perceived as simultaneous. There is, however, a recent and growing body of evidence which indicates that the perceived onset of vestibular stimulation is slow compared to the other senses, such that vestibular stimuli need to be presented prior to other sensory stimuli in order to be perceived synchronously. Following a review of this literature I will argue that this perceived latency of vestibular stimulation likely reflects the fact that vestibular stimulation is most often associated with sensory events that occur following head movement, that the vestibular system rarely works alone, and that the brain prioritizes physiological response to vestibular stimulation over perceptual awareness of stimulation onset.