Publication Details

Bubka, A., Bonato, F. & Palmisano, S. A. (2008). Expanding and contracting optic-flow patterns and vection. Perception, 37 (5), 704-711.


When stationary observers view an optic-flow pattern, visually induced self-motion perception (vection) and a form of motion sickness known as simulator sickness (SS), can result. Previous results suggest that an expanding flow pattern leads to more SS than a contracting pattern. Sensory conflict, a possible cause of SS, may be more salient when an expanding optic-flow pattern is viewed. An experiment was conducted to test if a more salient sensory conflict accompanying expanding flow patterns might inhibit vection. Participants (n=15) viewed a pattern of blue squares, either steadily expanded or contracted, on a large rear-projection screen. Vection onset and magnitude were measured for 30 s with a computer-interfaced slide device. Vection onset was significantly faster, and vection magnitude stronger, when a contracting pattern was viewed. We propose that our extensive experience with forward self-motion may form a neural expectancy (exposure-history) about the sensory inputs which typically accompany expanding flow. However, since backward self-motion is less common, there may be a weaker exposure-history for contracting flow, and as a result these patterns generate less salient sensory conflict and subsequently less vection.


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