Balancing the mind: vestibular induced facilitation of egocentric mental transformations

Falconer, Caroline J.; Mast, Fred W. (2012). Balancing the mind: vestibular induced facilitation of egocentric mental transformations. Experimental psychology, 59(6), pp. 332-339. Hogrefe 10.1027/1618-3169/a000161

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The body schema is a key component in accomplishing egocentric mental transformations, which rely on bodily reference frames. These reference frames are based on a plurality of different cognitive and sensory cues among which the vestibular system plays a prominent role. We investigated whether a bottom-up influence of vestibular stimulation modulates the ability to perform egocentric mental transformations. Participants were significantly faster to make correct spatial judgments during vestibular stimulation as compared to sham stimulation. Interestingly, no such effects were found for mental transformation of hand stimuli or during mental transformations of letters, thus showing a selective influence of vestibular stimulation on the rotation of whole-body reference frames. Furthermore, we found an interaction with the angle of rotation and vestibular stimulation demonstrating an increase in facilitation during mental body rotations in a direction congruent with rightward vestibular afferents. We propose that facilitation reflects a convergence in shared brain areas that process bottom-up vestibular signals and top-down imagined whole-body rotations, including the precuneus and tempero-parietal junction. Ultimately, our results show that vestibular information can influence higher-order cognitive processes, such as the body schema and mental imagery.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Cognitive Psychology, Perception and Methodology

UniBE Contributor:

Falconer, Caroline and Mast, Fred


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology








Jeannette Gatschet

Date Deposited:

30 May 2014 11:03

Last Modified:

06 May 2021 14:45

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:



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