Vection is the main contributor to motion sickness induced by visual yaw rotation: Implications for conflict and eye movement theories

Suzanne A.E. Nooij, Paolo Pretto, Daniel Oberfeld, Heiko Hecht, Heinrich H. Bülthoff

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54 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated the role of vection (i.e., a visually induced sense of self-motion), optokinetic nystagmus (OKN), and inadvertent head movements in visually induced motion sickness (VIMS), evoked by yaw rotation of the visual surround. These three elements have all been proposed as contributing factors in VIMS, as they can be linked to different motion sickness theories. However, a full understanding of the role of each factor is still lacking because independent manipulation has proven difficult in the past. We adopted an integrative approach to the problem by obtaining measures of potentially relevant parameters in four experimental conditions and subsequently combining them in a linear mixed regression model. To that end, participants were exposed to visual yaw rotation in four separate sessions. Using a full factorial design, the OKN was manipulated by a fixation target (present/ absent), and vection strength by introducing a conflict in the motion direction of the central and peripheral field of view (present/absent). In all conditions, head movements were minimized as much as possible. Measured parameters included vection strength, vection variability, OKN slow phase velocity, OKN frequency, the number of inadvertent head movements, and inadvertent head tilt. Results show that VIMS increases with vection strength, but that this relation varies among participants (R2 = 0.48). Regression parameters for vection variability, head and eye movement parameters were not significant. These results may seem to be in line with the Sensory Conflict theory on motion sickness, but we argue that a more detailed definition of the exact nature of the conflict is required to fully appreciate the relationship between vection and VIMS.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0175305
JournalPloS one
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Apr

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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