Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 173, Issue 3, pp 364–373 | Cite as

Localization of the subjective vertical during roll, pitch, and recumbent yaw body tilt

  • Simone B. Bortolami
  • Alberto Pierobon
  • Paul DiZio
  • James R. Lackner
Research Article


Localization of the subjective vertical during body tilt in pitch and in roll has been extensively studied because of the relevance of these axes for aviation and control of posture. Studies of yaw orientation relative to gravity are lacking. Our goal was to perform the first thorough evaluation of static orientation in recumbent yaw and to collect as efficiently as possible roll and pitch orientation data which would be consistent with the literature, using the same technique as our yaw tests. This would create the first comprehensive, coherent data set for all three axes suitable for quantitative tri-dimensional modeling of spatial orientation. We tested localization of the vertical for subjects tilted in pitch (−100° to +130°), in roll (−90° to +90°), and in yaw while recumbent (−80° to +80°). We had subjects point a gravity-neutral probe to the gravitational vertical (haptically indicated vertical) and report verbally their perceived tilt. Subjects underestimated their body tilts in recumbent yaw and pitch and overestimated their tilts in roll. The haptic settings for pitch and roll were consistent with data in the literature obtained with haptic and visual indications. Our data constitute the first tri-dimensional assessment of the subjective vertical using a common measurement procedure and provide the basis for the tri-axial modeling of vestibular function presented in the companion paper.


Spatial orientation Otolith Somatosensation Subjective vertical Gravity Roll tilt Pitch tilt Recumbent yaw tilt Sensory illusions Haptic vertical 



This research has been supported by AFSOR grant F49620110171 and NASA grant NAG9-1483. We thank Dr. Simone Rocca and Dr. Sebastiano Daros for their contributions and experimental help.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simone B. Bortolami
    • 1
  • Alberto Pierobon
    • 1
  • Paul DiZio
    • 1
    • 2
  • James R. Lackner
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Laboratory, MS 033Brandeis UniversityWalthamUSA
  2. 2.Volen Center for Complex SystemsBrandeis UniversityWalthamUSA

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