Postural sway in men and women during nauseogenic motion of the illuminated environment

Frank Koslucher, Justin Munafo, Thomas A. Stoffregen

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41 Scopus citations


We exposed standing men and women to motion relative to the illuminated environment in a moving room. During room motion, we measured the kinematics of standing body sway. Participants were instructed to discontinue immediately if they experienced any symptoms of motion sickness, however mild. For this reason, our analysis of body sway included only movement before the onset of motion sickness. We analyzed the spatial magnitude of postural sway in terms of the positional variability and mean velocity of the center of pressure. We analyzed the multifractality of postural sway in terms of the width of the multifractal spectrum and the degree of multiplicativity of center of pressure positions. Results revealed that postural sway differed between participants who later reported motion sickness and those who did not, replicating previous effects. In a novel effect, postural responses to motion of the illuminated environment differed between women and men. In addition, we identified statistically significant interactions that involved both Sex and motion sickness status. Effects were observed separately in the spatial magnitude and multifractality of sway. The results were consistent with the postural instability theory of motion sickness (Riccio and Stoffregen in Ecol Psychol 3:195–240, 1991) and suggest that Sex differences in motion sickness may be related to Sex differences in the control and stabilization of bodily activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2709-2720
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Eric Haaland, Amy Malsch, and Jennifer Webeler, who assisted with data collection and analysis. We thank also Damian Kelty-Stephen, for assistance with MF-DFA. This project was supported by the University of Minnesota’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Justin Munafo’s participation was supported by a fellowship from the University of Minnesota Diversity of Views and Experience program.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Motion sickness
  • Multifractality
  • Postural sway
  • Sex differences


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