August 2010
Volume 10, Issue 7
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2010
Reaction time and event-related potentials to visual, auditory and vestibular stimuli
Author Affiliations
  • Michael Barnett-Cowan
    Department of Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics
  • Hugh Nolan
    Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, Trinity College Dublin, Neural Engineering Group, Trinity Centre for Bioengineering
  • John S. Butler
    Departments of Psychology and Biology, City College of New York, The Children's Research Unit (CRU) Program in Cognitive Neuroscience
  • John J. Foxe
    Departments of Psychology and Biology, City College of New York, The Children's Research Unit (CRU) Program in Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Richard B. Reilly
    Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, Trinity College Dublin, Neural Engineering Group, Trinity Centre for Bioengineering
  • Heinrich H. Bülthoff
    Department of Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics
    Department of Brain and Cognitive Engineering, Korea University
Journal of Vision August 2010, Vol.10, 1400. doi:10.1167/10.7.1400
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      Michael Barnett-Cowan, Hugh Nolan, John S. Butler, John J. Foxe, Richard B. Reilly, Heinrich H. Bülthoff; Reaction time and event-related potentials to visual, auditory and vestibular stimuli. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):1400. doi: 10.1167/10.7.1400.

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Abstract

Involuntary physical responses to vestibular stimulation are very fast. The vestibulo-ocular reflex, for example, occurs approximately 20ms after the onset of vestibular stimulation (Lorente de No, 1933, Arch Neurol Psychiat). Despite these fast responses, reaction time (RT) to the perceived onset of vestibular stimulation occurs as late as 438ms after galvanic vestibular stimulation, which is approximately 220ms later than RTs to visual, somatosensory and auditory stimuli (Barnett-Cowan & Harris, 2009, Exp Brain Res). To determine whether RTs to natural vestibular stimulation are also slow, participants in the present study were passively moved forwards by .1178m (single cycle sinusoidal acceleration; 0.75m/s/s peak acceleration) using a Stewart motion platform and were asked to press a button relative to the onset of physical motion. RTs to auditory and visual stimuli were also collected. RTs to physical motion occurred significantly later (>100ms) than RTs to auditory and visual stimuli. Event related potentials (ERPs) were simultaneously recorded where the onset of the vestibular-ERP in both RT and non-RT trials occurred about 200ms or more after stimulus onset while the onset of the auditory- and visual-ERPs occurred less than 100ms after stimulus onset. All stimuli ERPs occurred approximately 135ms prior to RTs. These results provide further evidence that vestibular perception is slow compared to the other senses and that this perceptual latency may be related to latent cortical responses to physical motion.

Barnett-Cowan, M. Nolan, H. Butler, J. S. Foxe, J. J. Reilly, R. B. Bülthoff, H. H. (2010). Reaction time and event-related potentials to visual, auditory and vestibular stimuli [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 10(7):1400, 1400a, http://www.journalofvision.org/content/10/7/1400, doi:10.1167/10.7.1400. [CrossRef]
Footnotes
 This research was supported by a Postdoc stipend to MBC from the Max Planck Society and by the WCU (World Class University) program through the National Research Foundation of Korea funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (R31-2008-000-10008-0) to HHB. Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology Embark Initiative postgraduate award to HN and Science Foundation Ireland Research Frontiers award to RBR. Special thanks to Karl Beykirch for technical assistance.
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