Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 219, Issue 1, pp 1–11 | Cite as

Neural correlates of oddball detection in self-motion heading: A high-density event-related potential study of vestibular integration

  • H. Nolan
  • J. S. Butler
  • R. Whelan
  • J. J. Foxe
  • H. H. Bülthoff
  • R. B. Reilly
Research Article


The perception of self-motion is a product of the integration of information from both visual and non-visual cues, to which the vestibular system is a central contributor. It is well documented that vestibular dysfunction leads to impaired movement and balance, dizziness and falls, and yet our knowledge of the neuronal processing of vestibular signals remains relatively sparse. In this study, high-density electroencephalographic recordings were deployed to investigate the neural processes associated with vestibular detection of changes in heading. To this end, a self-motion oddball paradigm was designed. Participants were translated linearly 7.8 cm on a motion platform using a one second motion profile, at a 45° angle leftward or rightward of straight ahead. These headings were presented with a stimulus probability of 80–20 %. Participants responded when they detected the infrequent direction change via button-press. Event-related potentials (ERPs) were calculated in response to the standard (80 %) and target (20 %) movement directions. Statistical parametric mapping showed that ERPs to standard and target movements differed significantly from 490 to 950 ms post-stimulus. Topographic analysis showed that this difference had a typical P3 topography. Individual participant bootstrap analysis revealed that 93.3 % of participants exhibited a clear P3 component. These results indicate that a perceived change in vestibular heading can readily elicit a P3 response, wholly similar to that evoked by oddball stimuli presented in other sensory modalities. This vestibular-evoked P3 response may provide a readily and robustly detectable objective measure for the evaluation of vestibular integrity in various disease models.


Electroencephalography Evoked potentials Vestibular Heading Self-motion P3 Cognition 



Funding: This study was partly funded by an Irish Research Council for Science Engineering and Technology Postgraduate scholarship to H. Nolan, a Science Foundation Ireland grant to R. Reilly 09/RFP/NE2382, a WCU (World Class University) program funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology through the National Research Foundation of Korea (R31-10008) to H. Bülthoff. Dr. Foxe is supported by a grant from the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH R01 MH85322). The authors would like to thank Kevin Whittingstall for invaluable advice and guidance. We would like to thank Julian Hofmann, Frank Nieuwenhuizen and Michael Weyel for help with the experimental arrangement. Preliminary results from this work were presented at IEEE EMBC Conference, Boston, 2011.

Supplementary material

221_2012_3059_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (202 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 202 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Nolan
    • 1
  • J. S. Butler
    • 2
    • 3
  • R. Whelan
    • 1
    • 5
  • J. J. Foxe
    • 3
  • H. H. Bülthoff
    • 2
    • 4
  • R. B. Reilly
    • 1
  1. 1.The Trinity Centre for BioengineeringTrinity College DublinDublinIreland
  2. 2.Max Planck Institute for Biological CyberneticsTübingenGermany
  3. 3.The Sheryl and Daniel R. Tishman Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory, Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center (CERC), Departments of Pediatrics and NeuroscienceAlbert Einstein College of MedicineBronxUSA
  4. 4.Department of Brain and Cognitive EngineeringKorea UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA

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