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Rolling into spatial disorientation: simulator demonstration of the post-roll (Gillingham) illusion

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Nooij, S., & Groen, E. (2011). Rolling into spatial disorientation: simulator demonstration of the post-roll (Gillingham) illusion. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 82(5), 505-512. doi:10.3357/ASEM.2946.2011.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-BBB6-1
Introduction: Spatial disorientation (SD) is still a contributing factor in many aviation accidents, stressing the need for adequate SD training scenarios. In this article we focused on the post-roll effect (the sensation of rolling back after a roll maneuver, such as an entry of a coordinated turn) and investigated the effect of roll stimuli on the pilot's ability to stabilize their roll attitude. This resulted in a ground-based demonstration scenario for pilots. Methods: The experiments took place in the advanced 6-DOF Desdemona motion simulator, with the subject in a supine position. Roll motions were either fully automated with the subjects blindfolded (BLIND), automated with the subject viewing the cockpit interior (COCKPIT), or self-controlled (LEAD). After the roll stimulus subjects had to cancel all perceived simulator motion without any visual feedback. Both the roll velocity and duration were varied. Results: In 68 of all trials subjects corrected for the perceived motion of rolling back by initiating a roll motion in the same direction as the preceeding roll. The effect was dependent on both rate and duration, in a manner consistent with semicircular canal dynamics. The effect was smallest in the BLIND scenario, but differences between simulation scenarios were non-significant. Discussion: The results show that the effects of the post-roll illusion on aircraft control can be demonstrated adequately in a flight simulator using an attitude control task. The effect is present even after short roll movements, occurring frequently in flight. Therefore this demonstration is relevant for spatial disorientation training programs for pilots.