Galvanic vestibular stimulation influences randomness of number generation

Authors: Ferre', E.R., Vagnoni, E. and Haggard, P.

Journal: Experimental Brain Research

Publisher: Springer Nature

ISSN: 0014-4819

DOI: 10.1007/s00221-012-3302-6


Successful interaction with the external environment requires a balance between novel or exploratory and routine or exploitative behaviours. This distinction is often expressed in terms of location or orientation of the body relative to surrounding space: functions in which the vestibular system plays an important role. However, the distinction can also be applied to novel versus repetitive production of any behaviour or symbol. Here, we investigated whether vestibular inputs contribute to the balance between novel and routine behaviours, independently of their effects on spatial orienting, by assessing effects of galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) on a random number generation task. Right-anodal/left-cathodal GVS, which preferentially activates the left cerebral hemisphere decreased the randomness of the sequence, while leftanodal/ right-cathodal GVS, which preferentially activates the right hemisphere increased it. GVS did not induce any spatial biases in locations chosen from the number line.

Our results suggest that vestibular stimulation of each hemisphere has a specific effect on the balance between novel and routine actions. We found no evidence for effects of non-specific arousal due to GVS on random number generation, and no evidence for effects on number generation consistent with modulation of spatial attention due to GVS.

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