Galvanic vestibular stimulation evokes sensations of body rotation

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Abstract

Psychophysical experiments identified effects of galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) on the perception of whole-body angular rotation. Subjects lay supine on a platform that could rotate about a vertical axis through the vestibular axis so that linear movements were excluded. Movements were applied sufficiently above perception threshold to enable a reliable report of direction and movement size. In some trials, binaural GVS was applied concurrently at 1–2 mA. When GVS that was incongruent with the movement was applied, subjects reported lesser spin, on average cancelling the movement perception. When the GVS and movement were congruent, subjects reported greater spin. We conclude that GVS produces a vestibular signal of rotation, probably though an effect on semicircular canals.

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