Postural instability and motion sickness in a fixed-base flight simulator

T. A. Stoffregen, L. J. Hettinger, M. W. Haas, M. M. Roe, L. J. Smart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

109 Scopus citations


We evaluated the prediction that postural instability would precede the subjective symptoms of motion sickness in a fixed-base flight simulator. Participants sat in a cockpit in a video projection dome and were exposed to optical flow that oscillated in the roll axis with exposure durations typical of flight simulation. The frequencies of oscillation were those that characterize spontaneous postural sway during stance. Head motion was measured prior to and during exposure to imposed optical flow. Of 14 participants, 6 were classified as motion sick, either during or after exposure to the optical oscillation. Prior to the onset of subjective symptoms, head motion among participants who later became sick was significantly greater than among participants who did not become motion sick. We argue that the results support the postural instability theory of motion sickness. Actual or potential applications include the prevention or mitigation of motion sickness in virtual environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)458-469
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

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