What causes motion sickness?

Department: Human Movement Sciences
Section: Sensorimotor control
Research area/-theme: motion sickness; postural stability; cognition
Duration: 2012 - 2016
Researcher: Astrid Lubeck
Supervisors: prof.dr. J.E. Bos; dr. J.F. Stins
In collaboration with: TNO Soesterberg
Grant: NWO

Project name: Standing well

In daily life we are often exposed to visual motion patterns: while watching a movie, watching television or while playing video games or operating a simulator. These patterns can create a powerful sensation of self-motion. Potential adverse effects of exposure to such patterns can result in motion sickness, dizziness, and postural unsteadiness. These negative effects can have a great impact on daily living. These adverse effects may cause avoidance of situations with exposure to visual motion patterns and therefore may limit daily life participation.
These side effects can be explained by a theoretical framework that takes into account expected and actual sensory consequences of motion (internal model). In case of a mismatch between actual- and expected sensory input, motion sickness and/or postural unsteadiness may occur.
This project focuses on adverse effects of exposure to visual motion patterns based on a theoretical framework taking expectations about sensory input into account. The core questions we want to answer are:

  • What is the temporal relationship between motion sickness and postural stability?
  • What is the causal relationship between motion sickness and postural stability?
  • How do adaptation and re-adaptation to novel environments occur (real or virtual)?
  • To what extent can visually induced symptoms be explained by a wrongly calibrated internal model?