Balancing awareness: Vestibular signals modulate visual consciousness in the absence of awareness
The processing of visual and vestibular information is crucial for perceiving self-motion. Visual cues, such as optic flow, have been shown to induce and alter vestibular percepts, yet the role of vestibular information in shaping visual awareness remains unclear. Here we investigated if vestibular signals influence the access to awareness of invisible visual signals. Using natural vestibular stimulation (passive yaw rotations) on a vestibular self-motion platform, and optic flow masked through continuous flash suppression (CFS) we tested if congruent visual-vestibular information would break interocular suppression more rapidly than incongruent information. We found that when the unseen optic flow was congruent with the vestibular signals perceptual suppression as quantified with the CFS paradigm was broken more rapidly than when it was incongruent. We argue that vestibular signals impact the formation of visual awareness through enhanced access to awareness for congruent multisensory stimulation. (C) 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.