Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 236, Issue 6, pp 1631–1641 | Cite as

Postural time-to-contact as a precursor of visually induced motion sickness

  • Ruixuan Li
  • Hannah Walter
  • Christopher Curry
  • Ruth Rath
  • Nicolette Peterson
  • Thomas A. Stoffregen
Research Article


The postural instability theory of motion sickness predicts that subjective symptoms of motion sickness will be preceded by unstable control of posture. In previous studies, this prediction has been confirmed with measures of the spatial magnitude and the temporal dynamics of postural activity. In the present study, we examine whether precursors of visually induced motion sickness might exist in postural time-to-contact, a measure of postural activity that is related to the risk of falling. Standing participants were exposed to oscillating visual motion stimuli in a standard laboratory protocol. Both before and during exposure to visual motion stimuli, we monitored the kinematics of the body’s center of pressure. We predicted that postural activity would differ between participants who reported motion sickness and those who did not, and that these differences would exist before participants experienced subjective symptoms of motion sickness. During exposure to visual motion stimuli, the multifractality of sway differed between the Well and Sick groups. Postural time-to-contact differed between the Well and Sick groups during exposure to visual motion stimuli, but also before exposure to any motion stimuli. The results provide a qualitatively new type of support for the postural instability theory of motion sickness.


Motion sickness Postural stability Time-to-contact 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors reported no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruixuan Li
    • 1
  • Hannah Walter
    • 1
  • Christopher Curry
    • 1
  • Ruth Rath
    • 1
  • Nicolette Peterson
    • 1
  • Thomas A. Stoffregen
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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