A novel method for reducing motion sickness susceptibility through training visuospatial ability – A two-part study

Joseph Smyth, Paul Jennings, Peter Bennett, Stewart Birrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
206 Downloads (Pure)


Everyone can be susceptible to motion sickness (except those with complete loss of labyrinth function) and around one in three are known to be servery susceptible. Motion sickness can be experienced in many domains, including car travel, on a boat, using virtual reality headsets and simulator use amongst others. It is expected that due to potential designs and use cases, self-driving cars will increase motion sickness onset likelihood and severity for many car travellers. Besides medication, there are limited methods through which one can actively reduce their motion sickness susceptibility. This research develops a novel visuospatial training tool and explores the effect of visuospatial training on motion sickness. With a combined sample of 42 participants split between driving simulator trials (n = 20), and on-road trials (n = 22) baseline visuospatial skills and motion sickness were first measured. After a 14-day training period where participates completed 15-min of pen and paper tasks per day, it was found that visuospatial skills improved by 40%. This increase in visuospatial ability was shown to be directly responsible for a reduction in motion sickness by 51% in the simulator (with a 60% reduction in participant dropouts) and a 58% reduction in the on-road trial. This research has successfully identified a new method to reduce motion sickness susceptibility and the impact of these findings have wide reaching implications for motion sickness research, especially in the field of self-driving vehicles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103264
Pages (from-to)103264
Number of pages1
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Early online date10 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Applied Ergonomics. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Applied Ergonomics, 90, (2021)] DOI: 10.1016/j.apergo.2020.103264

© 2020, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/


  • Human factors
  • Motion sickness
  • Driving simulator
  • Carsickness
  • Visuospatial
  • Mental rotation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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