Vestibular precision at the level of perception, eye movements, posture, and neurons Academic Article uri icon


  • Precision and accuracy are two fundamental properties of any system, including the nervous system. Reduced precision (i.e., imprecision) results from the presence of neural noise at each level of sensory, motor, and perceptual processing. This review has three objectives: (1) to show the importance of studying vestibular precision, and specifically that studying accuracy without studying precision ignores fundamental aspects of the vestibular system; (2) to synthesize key hypotheses about precision in vestibular perception, the vestibulo-ocular reflex, posture, and neurons; and (3) to show that groups of studies that are thoughts to be distinct (e.g., perceptual thresholds, subjective visual vertical variability, neuronal variability) are actually "two sides of the same coin" - because the methods used allow results to be related to the standard deviation of a Gaussian distribution describing the underlying neural noise. Vestibular precision varies with age, stimulus amplitude, stimulus frequency, body orientation, motion direction, pathology, medication, and electrical/mechanical vestibular stimulation, but does not vary with sex. The brain optimizes precision during integration of vestibular cues with visual, auditory, and/or somatosensory cues. Since a common concern with precision metrics is time required for testing, we describe approaches to optimize data collection and provide evidence that fatigue and session effects are minimal. Finally, we summarize how precision is an individual trait that is correlated with clinical outcomes in patients as well as with performance in functional tasks like balance. These findings highlight the importance of studying vestibular precision and accuracy, and that knowledge gaps remain.

published proceedings

  • Neuroscience

altmetric score

  • 4.7

author list (cited authors)

  • Diaz-Artiles, A., & Karmali, F.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Diaz-Artiles, Ana||Karmali, Faisal

publication date

  • June 2021