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Cybersickness: a Multisensory Integration Perspective

In: Multisensory Research
Authors:
Maria GallagherDepartment of Psychology, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, UK

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Elisa Raffaella FerrèDepartment of Psychology, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, UK

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Abstract

In the past decade, there has been a rapid advance in Virtual Reality (VR) technology. Key to the user’s VR experience are multimodal interactions involving all senses. The human brain must integrate real-time vision, hearing, vestibular and proprioceptive inputs to produce the compelling and captivating feeling of immersion in a VR environment. A serious problem with VR is that users may develop symptoms similar to motion sickness, a malady called cybersickness. At present the underlying cause of cybersickness is not yet fully understood. Cybersickness may be due to a discrepancy between the sensory signals which provide information about the body’s orientation and motion: in many VR applications, optic flow elicits an illusory sensation of motion which tells users that they are moving in a certain direction with certain acceleration. However, since users are not actually moving, their proprioceptive and vestibular organs provide no cues of self-motion. These conflicting signals may lead to sensory discrepancies and eventually cybersickness. Here we review the current literature to develop a conceptual scheme for understanding the neural mechanisms of cybersickness. We discuss an approach to cybersickness based on sensory cue integration, focusing on the dynamic re-weighting of visual and vestibular signals for self-motion.

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