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Biodynamic Hypothesis for the Frequency Tuning of Motion Sickness

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INTRODUCTION: Motion sickness is often provoked by oscillatory translational (linear) acceleration. For humans, motion frequencies around 0.2–0.3 Hz are the most provocative. A current explanation for this frequency band is that it spans a region of maximum ambiguity concerning the interpretation of vestibular signals. Below 0.2–0.3 Hz, linear accelerations are interpreted as ‘tilt’, whereas at higher frequencies accelerations are interpreted as ‘translation’, i.e., linear motion through space. This is termed the ‘tilt-translation’ hypothesis. However, the origin of this particular frequency range is unclear. We investigated whether the differential perceptions of oscillations at different frequencies derives from the biodynamics of active self-initiated whole body motion.

METHODS: Video-films were taken of subjects running slaloms of various combinations of lengths/amplitudes to provoke a range of temporal frequencies of slalom (reciprocal of time to run a cycle).

RESULTS: The usual tactic for cornering at frequencies <0.25 Hz was whole-body tilt, whereas >0.4 Hz lateropulsion of the legs with torso erect was observed. Between these frequencies subjects showed variable tactics, mixing components of both tilt and lateropulsion.

CONCLUSIONS: This uncertainty in selecting the appropriate tactic for movement control around 0.2–0.3 Hz is the possible origin of ‘tilt-translation’ ambiguity. It also follows that externally imposed motion around these frequencies would challenge both perception and motor control, with the consequence of motion sickness.

Golding JF, Gresty MA. Biodynamic hypothesis for the frequency tuning of motion sickness. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2016; 87(1):65–68.
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Keywords: frequency; locomotion; motion sickness; nausea; tilt-translation; transport; vestibular

Document Type: Short Communication

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Faculty of Science & Technology, University of Westminster, and the Division of Brain Sciences (Neuro-otology Section), Imperial College London, Charing Cross Hospital, London, UK

Publication date: 01 January 2016

More about this publication?
  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

    To access volumes 74 through 85, please click here.
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