Differential effects of vestibular processing on orienting exogenous and endogenous covert visual attention
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Recent research highlights the overwhelming role of vestibular information for higher order cognition. Central to body perception, vestibular cues provide information about self-location in space, self-motion versus object motion, and modulate the perception of space. Surprisingly, however, little research has dealt with how vestibular information combines with other senses to orient one’s attention in space. Here we used passive whole body rotations as exogenous (Experiment 1) or endogenous (Experiment 2) attentional cues and studied their effects on orienting visual attention in a classical Posner paradigm. We show that—when employed as an exogenous stimulus—rotation impacts attention orienting only immediately after vestibular stimulation onset. However, when acting as an endogenous stimulus, vestibular stimulation provides a robust benefit to target detection throughout the rotation profile. Our data also demonstrate that vestibular stimulation boosts attentional processing more generally, independent of rotation direction, associated with a general improvement in performance. These data provide evidence for distinct effects of vestibular processing on endogenous and exogenous attention as well as alertness that differ with respect to the temporal dynamics of the motion profile. These data reveal that attentional spatial processing and spatial body perception as manipulated through vestibular stimulation share important brain mechanisms.
KeywordsVestibular Cognition Exogenous attention Endogenous attention
This work has been supported by EU FP7 project VERE WP1, Grant agreement number 257695, the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Bertarelli foundation.
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