Individual motion perception parameters and motion sickness frequency sensitivity in fore-aft motion

Tugrul Irmak*, Ksander N. de Winkel, Daan M. Pool, Heinrich H. Bülthoff, Riender Happee

*Corresponding author for this work

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Previous literature suggests a relationship between individual characteristics of motion perception and the peak frequency of motion sickness sensitivity. Here, we used well-established paradigms to relate motion perception and motion sickness on an individual level. We recruited 23 participants to complete a two-part experiment. In the first part, we determined individual velocity storage time constants from perceived rotation in response to Earth Vertical Axis Rotation (EVAR) and subjective vertical time constants from perceived tilt in response to centrifugation. The cross-over frequency for resolution of the gravito-inertial ambiguity was derived from our data using the Multi Sensory Observer Model (MSOM). In the second part of the experiment, we determined individual motion sickness frequency responses. Participants were exposed to 30-minute sinusoidal fore-aft motions at frequencies of 0.15, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4 and 0.5 Hz, with a peak amplitude of 2 m/s2 in five separate sessions, approximately 1 week apart. Sickness responses were recorded using both the MIsery SCale (MISC) with 30 s intervals, and the Motion Sickness Assessment Questionnaire (MSAQ) at the end of the motion exposure. The average velocity storage and subjective vertical time constants were 17.2 s (STD = 6.8 s) and 9.2 s (STD = 7.17 s). The average cross-over frequency was 0.21 Hz (STD = 0.10 Hz). At the group level, there was no significant effect of frequency on motion sickness. However, considerable individual variability was observed in frequency sensitivities, with some participants being particularly sensitive to the lowest frequencies, whereas others were most sensitive to intermediate or higher frequencies. The frequency of peak sensitivity did not correlate with the velocity storage time constant (r = 0.32, p = 0.26) or the subjective vertical time constant (r = − 0.37, p = 0.29). Our prediction of a significant correlation between cross-over frequency and frequency sensitivity was not confirmed (r = 0.26, p = 0.44). However, we did observe a strong positive correlation between the subjective vertical time constant and general motion sickness sensitivity (r = 0.74, p = 0.0006). We conclude that frequency sensitivity is best considered a property unique to the individual. This has important consequences for existing models of motion sickness, which were fitted to group averaged sensitivities. The correlation between the subjective vertical time constant and motion sickness sensitivity supports the importance of verticality perception during exposure to translational sickness stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1727-1745
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Frequency sensitivity
  • Modelling
  • Motion perception
  • Motion sickness


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