Influence of multisensory graviceptive information on the apparent zenith

Carriot, J., Cian, C., Paillard, Aurore, Denise, Pierre and Lackner, J. R. (2010) Influence of multisensory graviceptive information on the apparent zenith. Experimental Brain Research, 208 (4). pp. 569-579. ISSN 0014-4819


We studied the contribution of vestibular and somatosensory/proprioceptive stimulation to the perception of the apparent zenith (AZ). Experiment 1 involved rotation on a centrifuge and settings of the AZ. Subjects were supine on the centrifuge, and their body position was varied in relation to the rotation axis so that the gravitoinertial resultant force at the otoliths was 1 or 1.2 g with the otolith organs positioned 50 or 100 cm from the axis of rotation. Their legs were also positioned in different configurations, elevated or extended, to create different distributions of blood and lymph. Experiment 2 involved (a) settings of the AZ for subjects positioned supine with legs fully extended or legs elevated to create a torso-ward shift of blood and (b) settings of the subjective visual vertical for subjects horizontally positioned on their sides with legs extended or bent. Experiment 3 had subjects in the same body configurations as in Experiment 2 indicate when they were horizontal as they were rotated in pitch or roll about an inter-aural or naso-occipital axis. The experimental results for all three experiments demonstrated that both visual localization and apparent body horizontal are jointly determined by multimodal combinations of otolithic and somatosensory/proprioceptive stimulation. No evidence was found for non-overlapping or exclusive mechanisms determining one or the other. The subjective postural horizontal and AZ were affected in similar ways by comparable manipulations.

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