While moving through the environment, our central nervous system accumulates sensory information over time to provide an estimate of our self-motion, allowing for completing crucial tasks such as maintaining balance. However, little is known on how the duration of the motion stimuli influences our performances in a self-motion discrimination task. Here we study the human ability to discriminate intensities of sinusoidal (0.5 Hz) self-rotations around the vertical axis (yaw) for four different stimulus durations (1, 2, 3 and 5 s) in darkness. In a typical trial, participants experienced two consecutive rotations of equal duration and different peak amplitude, and reported the one perceived as stronger. For each stimulus duration, we determined the smallest detectable change in stimulus intensity (differential threshold) for a reference velocity of 15 deg/s. Results indicate that differential thresholds decrease with stimulus duration and asymptotically converge to a constant, positive value. This suggests that the central nervous system accumulates sensory information on self-motion over time, resulting in improved discrimination performances. Observed trends in differential thresholds are consistent with predictions based on a drift diffusion model with leaky integration of sensory evidence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)