Roll tilt self-motion direction discrimination training: First evidence for perceptual learning

Manuel P. Klaus, C. G. Schöne, M. Hartmann, D. M. Merfeld, M. C. Schubert, F. W. Mast

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Perceptual learning, the ability to improve the sensitivity of sensory perception through training, has been shown to exist in all sensory systems but the vestibular system. A previous study found no improvement of passive self-motion thresholds in the dark after intense direction discrimination training of either yaw rotations (stimulating semicircular canals) or y-translation (stimulating otoliths). The goal of the present study was to investigate whether perceptual learning of self-motion in the dark would occur when there is a simultaneous otolith and semicircular canal input, as is the case with roll tilt motion stimuli. Blindfolded subjects (n = 10) trained on a direction discrimination task with 0.2-Hz roll tilt motion stimuli (9 h of training, 1,800 trials). Before and after training, motion thresholds were measured in the dark for the trained motion and for three transfer conditions. We found that roll tilt sensitivity in the 0.2-Hz roll tilt condition was increased (i.e., thresholds decreased) after training but not for controls who were not exposed to training. This is the first demonstration of perceptual learning of passive self-motion direction discrimination in the dark. The results have potential therapeutic relevance as 0.2-Hz roll thresholds have been associated with poor performance on a clinical balance test that has been linked to more than a fivefold increase in falls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1987-1999
Number of pages13
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Multisensory Processing
  • Perceptual Learning
  • Roll Tilt
  • Self-Motion Perception
  • Vestibular System

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language


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