Accumulation of inertial sensory information in the perception of whole body yaw rotation

Alessandro Nesti, Ksander De Winkel, Heinrich H. Bülthoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


While moving through the environment, our central nervous system accumulates sensory information over time to provide an estimate of our self-motion, allowing for completing crucial tasks such as maintaining balance. However, little is known on how the duration of the motion stimuli influences our performances in a self-motion discrimination task. Here we study the human ability to discriminate intensities of sinusoidal (0.5 Hz) self-rotations around the vertical axis (yaw) for four different stimulus durations (1, 2, 3 and 5 s) in darkness. In a typical trial, participants experienced two consecutive rotations of equal duration and different peak amplitude, and reported the one perceived as stronger. For each stimulus duration, we determined the smallest detectable change in stimulus intensity (differential threshold) for a reference velocity of 15 deg/s. Results indicate that differential thresholds decrease with stimulus duration and asymptotically converge to a constant, positive value. This suggests that the central nervous system accumulates sensory information on self-motion over time, resulting in improved discrimination performances. Observed trends in differential thresholds are consistent with predictions based on a drift diffusion model with leaky integration of sensory evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0170497
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by funds from the Max Planck Society. AN and HHB were further supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within project C03 of SFB/Transregio 161. We gratefully thank Maria L?chele, Rainer Boss and Michael Kerger for technical assistance and Joost Venrooij for scientific discussion.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Nesti et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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