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Flight Experience and the Perception of Pitch Angular Displacements in a Gondola Centrifuge
KTH, School of Technology and Health (STH), Environmental Physiology.
KTH, School of Technology and Health (STH), Environmental Physiology.
2012 (English)In: Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, ISSN 0095-6562, Vol. 83, no 5, 496-503 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: It has been shown that flight experience may induce an adaptation of the vestibular system. The aim of the present work was to elucidate whether pilots, in comparison with non-pilots, have an increased responsiveness to angular displacement canal stimuli in the pitch plane during a conflict between the otolith organs and the semicircular canals. Methods: In a large swing-out gondola centrifuge, eight non-pilots, eight fighter pilots, and eight helicopter pilots underwent three runs (2 G, 5 min) heading forward, centripetally, and centrifugally. The direction of the gravitoinertial force was constant with respect to the subject. The visually perceived eye level (VPEL.) was measured in darkness by means of an adjustable luminous dot. Results: In the forward position the three groups produced similar results. After acceleration there was a sensation of backward tilt and an increasing depression of VPEL. This effect was smaller in the centripetal position and larger in the centrifugal position. The difference in VPEL between the opposite positions constitutes a measure of the ability to sense the pitch angular displacement canal stimulus related to the swing out of the gondola (600). This difference was most pronounced initially at the 2-G plateau (mean +/- SD): 13.5 +/- 12.9 degrees (non-pilots), 41.6 +/- 21.10 degrees (fighter pilots), and 19.5 +/- 14.0 degrees (helicopter pilots). There was no significant difference between non-pilots and helicopter pilots. Fighter pilots differed significantly from both non-pilots and helicopter pilots. Conclusion: Vestibular learning effects of flying may be revealed in a centrifuge. Fighter pilots had an increased ability, as compared to non-pilots and helicopter pilots, to perceive pitch angular displacements.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 83, no 5, 496-503 p.
Keyword [en]
spatial orientation, spatial disorientation, spatial disorientation training, vestibular psychophysics, vestibular adaptation, vestibular habituation, vestibular training
National Category
Environmental Health and Occupational Health
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-95489DOI: 10.3357/ASEM.3038.2012ISI: 000303620500006ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84862320282OAI: diva2:528663
QC 20120528Available from: 2012-05-28 Created: 2012-05-28 Last updated: 2012-05-28Bibliographically approved

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