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Integration of Translational and Rotational Vestibular Cues for Direction Detection during Eccentric Rotations

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http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons84229

Soyka,  F
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons83796

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

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons84174

Robuffo Giordano,  P
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons83839

Bülthoff,  HH
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Soyka, F., Barnett-Cowan, M., Robuffo Giordano, P., & Bülthoff, H. (2011). Integration of Translational and Rotational Vestibular Cues for Direction Detection during Eccentric Rotations. Poster presented at 12th Conference of Junior Neuroscientists of Tübingen (NeNA 2011), Heiligkreuztal, Germany.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-B9C2-8
Abstract
During eccentric yaw rotations around an Earth-vertical axis the semi-circular canals are stimulated (rotational acceleration) as well as the otoliths (tangential acceleration). Most likely the brain uses both sensory signals, the canal and the otolith signal, when faced with a rotation direction detection task. Keeping the rotational acceleration profile unchanged and increasing the radius of the eccentric rotation the tangential acceleration increases. Therefore, we hypothesized that thresholds would decrease with increasing radius of rotation. The threshold was defined as the peak acceleration needed to detect the correct direction of motion in 75 of the trials. Ten participants were tested in seven conditions (150 trials each): a head-centered rotation, a translation and five eccentric rotations with varying radii (R=0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5, 0.8 m). The motion had 1s duration and consisted of a single cycle sinusoidal acceleration. Participants were blindfolded, heard white noise and their head was kept in place with a neck brace. The results show a significant decrease of thresholds with increasing radius. It can be seen that the detection process for eccentric rotations is not exclusively based on either the canal or the otolith signal, but that both signals are integrated. A model able to predict the thresholds of the eccentric rotations is proposed, which is solely based on the thresholds for the head-centered rotation and the translational motion. For small radii the detection processes is mainly based on the canal signal whereas for large radii it is dominated by the otolith signal. For intermediate radii the reduction in threshold due to the sensory combination is largest compared to using only one of the two sensors. One additional participant suffered from occasional vertigo after an ear infection indicating vestibular problems. She showed unusually high thresholds for translational motions, but normal thresholds for head-centered rotations. Interestingly, her thresholds for eccentric rotations were higher than her threshold for the head-centered rotations suggesting that she did not only use the rotational signal, but instead had a problem integrating the two sensory signals. These findings indicate that signals from the otolith and the semi-circular canals are not used independently, but are integrated in order to solve a direction detection task.