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Vestibular Perception is Slow: A Review

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For more content, see Seeing and Perceiving and Spatial Vision.

Multisensory stimuli originating from the same event can be perceived asynchronously due to differential physical and neural delays. The transduction of and physiological responses to vestibular stimulation are extremely fast, suggesting that other stimuli need to be presented prior to vestibular stimulation in order to be perceived as simultaneous. There is, however, a recent and growing body of evidence which indicates that the perceived onset of vestibular stimulation is slow compared to the other senses, such that vestibular stimuli need to be presented prior to other sensory stimuli in order to be perceived synchronously. From a review of this literature it is speculated that this perceived latency of vestibular stimulation may reflect the fact that vestibular stimulation is most often associated with sensory events that occur following head movement, that the vestibular system rarely works alone, that additional computations are required for processing vestibular information, and that the brain prioritizes physiological response to vestibular stimulation over perceptual awareness of stimulation onset. Empirical investigation of these theoretical predictions is encouraged in order to fully understand this surprising result, its implications, and to advance the field.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, The Brain and Mind Institute, The University of Western Ontario, Natural Sciences Centre, London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 5B7


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