Vestibular stimulation

Stephen Black sblack at UBISHOPS.CA
Wed Nov 13 23:27:37 EST 1996

I'm discussing the vestibular system with my undergraduate class in 
physiological psychology. I wonder if anyone would care to confirm or 
correct the following:

I've told them about the Barany (rotating) chair method of stimulating the 
semi-circular canals. The typical finding is that a blindfolded subject 
will perceive rotation correctly while being accelerated up to speed, 
will no longer perceive rotation some time after being rotated at a 
constant speed, and then will experience a sensation of rotation in the 
opposite direction (falsely) on braking to a stop.

However, much research seems to go on these days not in a Barany chair 
but in a human centrifuge, and there are many natural situations, such as 
travelling on a curve in a car, in a jet, etc. It seems to me that this 
type of rotation at the end of a radius is different from the Barany 
chair type which is around your own axis. I expect that constant rotation 
in a centrifuge, unlike in a chair, would continue to produce a 
vestibular sensation of rotation.

Correct? I haven't seen anyone discuss the distinction between the two 
types of rotation but it seems to me they must be different. Perhaps it's 
considered too obvious to mention.


Stephen Black, Ph.D.                      tel: (819) 822-9600 ext 2470
Department of Psychology                  fax: (819) 822-9661
Bishop's University                    e-mail: sblack at
Lennoxville, Quebec               
J1M 1A9

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