Nausea Due To Watching Fast-Moving Digital Images Becoming Common
If you are watching computer-generated mayhem in the latest action film or scrolling rapidly on your smartphone, you may start to feel a little off. Maybe it is a dull headache or dizziness or creeping nausea. And no, it is not something you ate. A peculiar side effect of the 21st century is something called digital motion sickness or cybersickness. Increasingly common, according to medical and media experts, it causes a person to feel woozy, as if on a boat in a churning sea, from viewing moving digital content.
“It’s a fundamental problem that’s been kind of been swept under the carpet in the each industry,” said Cyriel Diels, a cognitive psychologist and human factors researcher at Coventry University’s Centre for Mobility and Transport in England. “It’s a natural response to an unnatural environment.”
Digital motion sickness, known among medical professionals as visually induced motion sickness, stems from a basic mismatch between sensory inputs, said Steven Rauch, medical director of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Balance and Vestibular Center and professor of otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School. “Your sense of balance is different than other senses in that it has lots of inputs,” he said. “When those inputs don’t agree, that’s when you feel dizziness and nausea.”
In traditional motion sickness, the mismatch occurs because you feel movement in your muscles and joints as well as in the intricate coils of your inner ear, but you do not see it. That is why getting up on the deck of a ship and looking at the horizon helps you feel better. But with digital motion sickness, it is the opposite.You see movement -like the turns and twists shown in a movie or video game car chase -that you do not feel. The result is the same: You may have sensory conflict that can make you feel queasy.
It can happen to anyone, even if you are someone who is not prone to motion sickness in cars, boats or airplanes. Various studies indicate it can affect 50% to 80% of people, depending on the fidelity of the digital content and how it is presented.
Studies show that women are more susceptible than men, as are those with a history of migraines or concussion.