Human spatial orientation in spaceflight is initially disturbed by the absence of usable graviceptor information from the otolithic organs. Experiments measuring astronaut visually induced motion (vection) strength on various flight days during the first 10 days of the Spacelab Life Sciences-2 mission demonstrated two new phenomena in addition to confirming the initial increased weighting of visual and localized tactile cues. The reliance on tactile and visual noninertial cues apparently declined after a week in space, as the crew became able to utilize their internal reference frame. Subjects also showed that even nondirectional tactile cues served as a direction anchor and inhibited visually induced roll sensation relative to a new loosely tethered test condition. Individual perceptual styles were again revealed among the four astronauts tested. The readaptation to 1 G similarly shows a period of reinterpretation of inertial and visual cues to spatial orientation. The results are discussed in terms of an internal-model representation of body orientation, with time-varying weights applied to extrinsic and intrinsic signals.
- Copyright © 1996 the American Physiological Society