Coriolis effect (perception)

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In psychophysical perception, the Coriolis effect (also referred to as the Coriolis illusion) is the misperception of body orientation and induced nausea due to the Coriolis force.[1][2][3] This effect comes about as the head is moved in contrary or similar motion with the body during the time of a spin, this rotation of the head affects the semicircular canals within the ear which causes a sense of dizziness or nausea before equilibrium is restored after the head returns to a stabilized state.[4]


Coriolis force was discovered by Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis in 1832. By the end of the nineteenth century, Coriolis force had become a common phrase in meteorological literature.[5] Coriolis force is classified as a fictitious force that is applied to objects that are in rotation.[6] When applied to perception, this occurs when a person's head is moved out of alignment during a spin. If individuals are spinning to the left along their y-axis and then push their head forward, that will bring their heads out of alignment and make it subject to Coriolis force and resultant effect. The manifestation of this effect is that the individuals will feel like their heads are tilting to their left.[7] This can cause nausea, disorientation, and motion sickness. These feelings of discomfort arise in the body when the signals being sent by the vestibular system and visual system are not in agreement, i.e. the eyes may be telling the body that one is not moving, but the vestibular system's fine-tuned senses are detecting and communicating the opposite. [8]

In the real world[edit]

The Coriolis effect is a concern for pilots, where it can cause extreme disorientation.[9][10][11][12] This happens as pilots accelerate their aircraft and also need to check their instruments, which often involves moving their heads. This is particularly dangerous for an airborne pilot because it can give the feeling that they are pitching, yawing, and rolling simultaneously.[13] In extreme situations, this can cause the pilot to lose control of the aircraft.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jeffrey W. Vincoli (1999). Lewis' dictionary of occupational and environmental safety and health. CRC Press. p. 245. ISBN 1-56670-399-9.
  2. ^ Mark S Sanders & Ernest J McCormick (1993). Human Factors in Engineering and Design (7th ed.). McGraw-Hill. p. 644. ISBN 0-07-112826-3.
  3. ^ Sheldon M. Ebenholtz (2001). Oculomotor Systems and Perception. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-80459-0.
  4. ^ George Mather (2006). Foundations of perception. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-86377-835-6.
  5. ^ Persson, Anders (1998-07-01). "How Do We Understand the Coriolis Force?". Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 79 (7): 1373–1386. Bibcode:1998BAMS...79.1373P. doi:10.1175/1520-0477(1998)079<1373:HDWUTC>2.0.CO;2. ISSN 0003-0007.
  6. ^ OpenStaxCollege (2012-01-23), "Fictitious Forces and Non-inertial Frames: The Coriolis Force", College Physics, archived from the original on 2019-03-27, retrieved 2020-03-18
  7. ^ Mather, George (2006). Foundations of Perception. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-86377-835-3.
  8. ^ Sanderson, Jeffrey; Oman, Charles M.; Harris, Laurence R. (2007). "Measurement of oscillopsia induced by vestibular Coriolis stimulation". Journal of Vestibular Research: Equilibrium & Orientation. 17 (5–6): 289–299. doi:10.3233/VES-2007-175-609. ISSN 0957-4271. PMID 18626139. S2CID 21502854.
  9. ^ Arnauld E. Nicogossian (1996). Space biology and medicine. Reston, VA: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. p. 337. ISBN 1-56347-180-9.
  10. ^ Thomas Brandt (2003). Vertigo: Its Multisensory Syndromes. Springer. p. 416. ISBN 0-387-40500-3.
  11. ^ Fred H. Previc, William R. Ercoline (2004). Spatial Disorientation in Aviation. Reston, VA: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. p. 249. ISBN 1-56347-654-1.
  12. ^ Gilles Clément (2003). Fundamentals of Space Medicine. Springer. p. 41. ISBN 1-4020-1598-4.
  13. ^ Kowalczuk, Krzysztof P.; Gazdzinski, Stefan P.; Janewicz, Michał; Gąsik, Marek; Lewkowicz, Rafał; Wyleżoł, Mariusz (February 2016). "Hypoxia and Coriolis Illusion in Pilots During Simulated Flight". Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance. 87 (2): 108–113. doi:10.3357/AMHP.4412.2016. PMID 26802375. Retrieved 2020-03-18.
  14. ^ "Spatial Disorientation". 2019-08-07. Retrieved 2020-03-18.

Further reading[edit]

See, for example, Pouly and Young.