Inter-hemispheric desynchronization of the human MT+ during visually induced motion sickness


Visually induced motion sickness (VIMS) is triggered in susceptible individuals by stationary viewing of moving visual scenes. VIMS is often preceded by an illusion of self-motion (vection) and/or by inappropriate optokinetic nystagmus (OKN) responses associated with increased activity in the human motion-sensitive middle temporal area (MT+). Neuroimaging studies have reported predominant right hemispheric activation in MT+ during both vection and OKN, suggesting that VIMS may result from desynchronization of activity between left and right MT+ cortices. However, this possibility has not been directly tested. To this end, we presented VIMS-free and VIMS-inducing movies in that order while measuring the temporal correlations between corresponding left and right visual cortices (including MT+) using functional magnetic resonance imaging. The inter-hemispheric correlation was reduced significantly during the viewing of the VIMS-inducing movie compared to the control VIMS-free movie in the MT+ of subjects reporting VIMS, but not in insusceptible subjects. In contrast, there were no significant inter-hemispheric differences within VIMS-free or VIMS-inducing movie exposure for visual area V1, V2, V3, V3A or V7. Our findings provide the first evidence for an association between asynchronous bilateral MT+ activation and VIMS. Desynchronization of left and right MT+ regions may reflect hemispheric asymmetry in the activities of functional networks involved in eye movement control, vection perception and/or postural control.

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We thank Yoshimichi Ejima and Shigeko Takahashi for their helpful comments. We also thank anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions. This study was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas “Shitsukan” (23135517, 25135720) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan and Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (22530793) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) to H. Yamamoto.

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Correspondence to Hiroki Yamamoto.

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Miyazaki, J., Yamamoto, H., Ichimura, Y. et al. Inter-hemispheric desynchronization of the human MT+ during visually induced motion sickness. Exp Brain Res 233, 2421–2431 (2015).

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  • Human visual cortex
  • Optokinetic nystagmus (OKN)
  • Vection
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
  • Visual motion