Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Neuroscience and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Gender and line size factors modulate the deviations of the subjective visual vertical induced by head tilt

Marion Luyat1*, Myriam Noël1, Vincent Thery2 and Edouard Gentaz3

Author affiliations

1 Department of Psychology, University of Lille, Laboratory of Functional Neurosciences and Pathology EA4559, 4 rue du Barreau, Villeneuve d'Ascq, 59653, France

2 Service MPR Neurologique, Centre Hospitalier de Saint-Amand-les-Eaux, 19 rue des Anciens d'A.F.N., Saint-Amand-les-Eaux, 59230, France

3 Department of Psychology, University of Grenoble, Laboratory of Psychology and NeuroCognition UMR 5105, 1251 avenue centrale, 38040, France

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2012, 13:28  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-13-28

Published: 15 March 2012

Abstract

Background

The subjective visual vertical (SVV, the visual estimation of gravitational direction) is commonly considered as an indicator of the sense of orientation. The present study examined the impact of two methodological factors (the angle size of the stimulus and the participant's gender) on deviations of the SVV caused by head tilt. Forty healthy participants (20 men and 20 women) were asked to make visual vertical adjustments of a light bar with their head held vertically or roll-tilted by 30° to the left or to the right. Line angle sizes of 0.95° and 18.92° were presented.

Results

The SVV tended to move in the direction of head tilt in women but away from the direction of head tilt in men. Moreover, the head-tilt effect was also modulated by the stimulus' angle size. The large angle size led to deviations in the direction of head-tilt, whereas the small angle size had the opposite effect.

Conclusions

Our results showed that gender and line angle size have an impact on the evaluation of the SVV. These findings must be taken into account in the growing body of research that uses the SVV paradigm in disease settings. Moreover, this methodological issue may explain (at least in part) the discrepancies found in the literature on the head-tilt effect.