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Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Carol Lawton


Department of Psychology

University Affiliation

Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne


Previous research indicates that virtual environments may elicit visually induced motion sickness (Stanney, Hale, Nahems, & Kennedy, 2003). Women typically experience more motion sickness symptoms than men (Flanagan, May, & Dobie, 2005). The current study explored the possibility that gender differences in brain lateralization might play a role in gender differences in motion sickness. Motion sickness is thought to result when conflict arises between one’s perception of themselves as moving and whether they are actually moving in the environment (e.g., motion sickness in a car). In virtual environments the person is not moving, but looking at a moving pathway on a computer screen causing this conflict. Left and right hemispheres of the brain may control different aspects of movement perceptions. We used handedness as an indirect measure of brain organization that might interact with discrepancies in movement perceptions that may lead to motion sickness. We hypothesized that the more “balance” between the hemispheres (indicated by ambidexterity), the less conflict between self-movement perception and actual movement within the environment, therefore the less motion sickness. Participants (79 male, 103 female) completed Simulator Sickness Questionnaires before and after immersion in the virtual environment. Participants were told to learn object locations throughout the building and later mark them on a floor-plan. This activity was used to keep participants focused while experiencing moving within the virtual environment. The findings for men showed no significant relationship between handedness and motion sickness. Women did show a significant linear and quadratic relationship between handedness and motion sickness. Women who were strongly left handed were more affected by visually induced motion sickness than ambidextrous women and strongly right handed women, and strongly right handed women were slightly more affected than the ambidextrous women. These findings suggest a complex role for brain lateralization in women’s susceptibility to motion sickness.


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Sex Differences in the Relationship Between Motion Sickness and Handedness

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