Type of auditory cues and apparatus influence how healthy young adults integrate sounds for dynamic balance

Liraz Arie, Agnieszka Roginska, Yi Wu, Delong Lin, Alvaro F. Olsen, Daphna Harel, Anat V. Lubetzky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is unclear whether the brain handles auditory cues similarly to visual cues for balance. We investigated the influence of headphones and loudspeaker reproduction of sounds on dynamic balance performance when an individual is facing a cognitive challenge. Twenty participants (16 females, aged 19–36) were asked to avoid a ball according to a specific visual rule. Visuals were projected from the HTC Vive head-mounted display in an acoustically controlled space. We varied the environment by adding congruent sounds (sounds coincide with the visual rule) or incongruent sounds (sounds may or may not coincide with the visual rule) as well as creating a multimodal (visual and congruent sounds) vs. unimodal (visual or congruent sounds only) display of stimuli. Sounds were played over headphones or loudspeakers. We quantified reaction time (RT) and accuracy (choosing the correct direction to move) by capturing the head movement. We found that in the absence of sounds, RT was slower with headphones compared to loudspeakers, but the introduction of either congruent or incongruent sounds resulted in faster movements with headphones such that RT was no longer different between apparatus. Participants used congruent sounds to improve accuracy but disregarded incongruent sounds. This suggests that selective attention may explain how sounds are incorporated into dynamic balance performance in healthy young adults. Participants leveraged sounds played over loudspeakers, but not over headphones, to enhance accuracy in a unimodal dark environment. This may be explained by the natural listening conditions created by loudspeakers where sounds may be perceived as externalized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1225-1235
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2024


  • Attention
  • Dynamic balance
  • Headphones
  • Loudspeakers
  • Sensory integration
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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