Internal Models, Vestibular Cognition, and Mental Imagery: Conceptual Considerations

in Vestibular Cognition
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Abstract

Vestibular cognition has recently gained attention. Despite numerous experimental and clinical demonstrations, it is not yet clear what vestibular cognition really is. For future research in vestibular cognition, adopting a computational approach will make it easier to explore the underlying mechanisms. Indeed, most modeling approaches in vestibular science include a top-down or a priori component. We review recent Bayesian optimal observer models, and discuss in detail the conceptual value of prior assumptions, likelihood and posterior estimates for research in vestibular cognition. We then consider forward models in vestibular processing, which are required in order to distinguish between sensory input that is induced by active self-motion, and sensory input that is due to passive self-motion. We suggest that forward models are used not only in the service of estimating sensory states but they can also be drawn upon in an offline mode (e.g., spatial perspective transformations), in which interaction with sensory input is not desired. A computational approach to vestibular cognition will help to discover connections across studies, and it will provide a more coherent framework for investigating vestibular cognition.

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