Visual-field displacements in human beings evoked by accoustical transients

J Acoust Soc Am. 1978 Jun;63(6):1912-8. doi: 10.1121/1.381894.


Sixty-two of 133 subjects reported visual-field displacements when they were exposed to intense (125 dB SPL) repetitive audiofrequency transients. This phenomenon was investigated in three experiments. Frequency (100-5000 Hz) was varied in experiment I; repetition rate (0.5/s--6.0/s) was varied in experiment II; acoustical transient onset/offset time (0.2--25 ms) was examined in experiment III. The results of these three experiments indicated that the largest proportion of displacement reports and the largest perceived motion magnitudes followed stimulation in the 500- to 1000-Hz frequency range at repetition rates of about 1/s. Response differences as a function of onset/offset time were erratic. The pattern of results obtained in this study, in conjunction with the results of previous investigations of acoustical vestibular stimulation, suggests that the visual-field displacments resulted from stimulation of the receptors of the vestibular system. These experiments may account for discrepancies in reports of infrasound-evoked eye movements. Finally, it is suggested that intense sound exposure may damage the vestibular receptors with or without concomitant damage to the auditory portion of the membranous labyrinth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation*
  • Animals
  • Eye Movements
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Haplorhini
  • Humans
  • Species Specificity
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / physiology
  • Visual Fields*
  • Visual Perception