After exposure to a moving sensory stimulus, subsequent perception is often biased in the opposite direction. This phenomenon, known as an aftereffect, has been extensively studied for optic flow stimuli where it is known as the visual motion aftereffect (MAE). Such visual motion can also generate the sensation of self-motion or vection. It has recently been demonstrated that fore-aft translation in darkness also produces an aftereffect. The current study examines the interaction between visual MAE and vestibular translation aftereffects. Human subjects participated in a two-interval experiment in which the first interval (adapter) was visual, translation, or both combined congruently or in conflict. Subjects identified the direction of the second (test) interval of either visual or translation using a forced-choice technique. The translation adapter had no influence on visual test stimulus perception, and the visual adapter did not influence vestibular test stimulus perception in any subjects. However, congruent visual and translation induced a significantly larger perceptual bias on the translation test stimulus than was observed for a translation only adapter. The congruent adapter caused the MAE to be diminished relative to a visual only adapter. Conflicting visual and vestibular adapters produced an aftereffect similar to that seen when the single adapting stimulus was the same modality as the test stimulus. These results suggest that unlike visual and translation stimuli whose combined influence on perception can be predicted based on the effects of each stimulus individually, the effects of combined visual and translation stimuli on aftereffects cannot be predicted from the influences of each stimulus individually.
This work was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders K23 DC011298. Additional support was provided by a clinician scientist grant from the Triological Society. Technical support was provided by Shawn Olmstead-Leahey.
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