Contribution of somesthetic information to the perception of body orientation in the pitch dimension

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Abstract:

This study investigated the contribution of otolithic and somesthetic inputs in the perception of body orientation when pitching at very slow velocities. In Experiment 1, the subjects' task was to indicate their subjective postural vertical, in two different conditions of body restriction, starting from different angles of body tilt. In the "strapped" condition, subjects were attached onto a platform by means of large straps. In the "body cast" condition, subjects were completely immobilized in a depressurized system, which attenuates gravity-based somesthetic cues. Results showed that the condition of body restriction and the initial tilt largely influenced the subjective postural vertical. In Experiment 2, subjects were displaced from a vertical position and had to detect the direction of body tilts. Results showed that the threshold for the perception of body tilt was higher when subjects were immobilized in the body cast and when they were tilted backward. Experiment 3 replicated the same protocol from a supine starting position. Compared to results of Experiment 2, the threshold for the perception of body tilt decreased significantly. Overall, these data suggested that gravity-based somesthetic cues are more informative than otolithic cues for the perception of a quasi-static body orientation.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02724980244000648

Affiliations: 1: Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France 2: Centre de Recherches du Service de Santé des Armées, La Tronche, France

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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