Modality-specific effects of threat on self-motion perception

Shira Hacohen-Brown, Eva Gilboa-Schechtman, Adam Zaidel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Threat and individual differences in threat-processing bias perception of stimuli in the environment. Yet, their effect on perception of one’s own (body-based) self-motion in space is unknown. Here, we tested the effects of threat on self-motion perception using a multisensory motion simulator with concurrent threatening or neutral auditory stimuli. Results: Strikingly, threat had opposite effects on vestibular and visual self-motion perception, leading to overestimation of vestibular, but underestimation of visual self-motions. Trait anxiety tended to be associated with an enhanced effect of threat on estimates of self-motion for both modalities. Conclusions: Enhanced vestibular perception under threat might stem from shared neural substrates with emotional processing, whereas diminished visual self-motion perception may indicate that a threatening stimulus diverts attention away from optic flow integration. Thus, threat induces modality-specific biases in everyday experiences of self-motion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120
JournalBMC Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 23 May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Attentional capture
  • Multisensory
  • Trait anxiety
  • Vestibular
  • Visual


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