“Behavioral impacts of sensory imprecision assayed by vestibular thresholds”
Faisal Karmali, Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School
Instructor in Otolaryngology
Massachusetts Eye and Ear
The last decade has brought a resurgence of interest in measuring the precision of vestibular responses at various levels (e.g., neural, perceptual and sensorimotor). For example, vestibular perceptual thresholds quantify the smallest motions that can be reliably perceived. They serve as a direct assay of imprecision which results from neural variability/noise. In this presentation, I will discuss recent findings about vestibular thresholds and the behavioral impacts of sensory imprecision. Recent work has shown that individuals with more precise vestibular cues (i.e., lower thresholds) have more stable posture and better performance in a piloting-like task. We examined sensorimotor variability by studying trial-to-trial variability in the vestibuloocular reflex and found that it covaries with perceptual thresholds across individuals and across stimulus amplitudes, suggesting that sensorimotor and perceptual imprecision arise from a common source. Finally, we used perceptual thresholds to improve our understanding of visual-vestibular interactions.