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PLoS One. 2018 Jun 14;13(6):e0199097. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0199097. eCollection 2018.

Effect of vibration during visual-inertial integration on human heading perception during eccentric gaze.

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Department of Bioengineering, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, United States of America.
Department of Otolaryngology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, United States of America.
Department of Neuroscience, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, United States of America.


Heading direction is determined from visual and inertial cues. Visual headings use retinal coordinates while inertial headings use body coordinates. Thus during eccentric gaze the same heading may be perceived differently by visual and inertial modalities. Stimulus weights depend on the relative reliability of these stimuli, but previous work suggests that the inertial heading may be given more weight than predicted. These experiments only varied the visual stimulus reliability, and it is unclear what occurs with variation in inertial reliability. Five human subjects completed a heading discrimination task using 2s of translation with a peak velocity of 16cm/s. Eye position was ±25° left/right with visual, inertial, or combined motion. The visual motion coherence was 50%. Inertial stimuli included 6 Hz vertical vibration with 0, 0.10, 0.15, or 0.20cm amplitude. Subjects reported perceived heading relative to the midline. With an inertial heading, perception was biased 3.6° towards the gaze direction. Visual headings biased perception 9.6° opposite gaze. The inertial threshold without vibration was 4.8° which increased significantly to 8.8° with vibration but the amplitude of vibration did not influence reliability. With visual-inertial headings, empirical stimulus weights were calculated from the bias and compared with the optimal weight calculated from the threshold. In 2 subjects empirical weights were near optimal while in the remaining 3 subjects the inertial stimuli were weighted greater than optimal predictions. On average the inertial stimulus was weighted greater than predicted. These results indicate multisensory integration may not be a function of stimulus reliability when inertial stimulus reliability is varied.

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