Vertical torque responses to vestibular stimulation in standing humans

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19 Citations (Scopus)


The effects of electrical vestibular stimulation upon movement and perception suggest two evoked sensations: head roll and inter-aural linear acceleration. The head roll vector causes walking subjects to turn in a direction dependent on head pitch, requiring generation of torque around a vertical axis. Here the effect of vestibular stimulation upon vertical torque (T-z) was investigated during quiet stance. With the head tilted forward, square-wave stimuli applied to the mastoid processes evoked a polarity-specific T-z response accompanied by trunk yaw. Stochastic vestibular stimulation (SVS) was used to investigate the effect of head pitch with greater precision; the SVS-T-z cross-correlation displayed a modulation pattern consistent with the head roll vector and this was also reflected by changes in coherence at 2-3Hz. However, a separate response at 7-8Hz was unaffected by head pitch. Head translation (rather than rotation) had no effect upon this high frequency response either, suggesting it is not caused by a sense of body rotation induced by an inter-aural acceleration vector offset from the body. Instead, high coherence between medio-lateral shear force and T-z at the same frequency range suggests it is caused by mechanical coupling to evoked medio-lateral sway. Consistent with this explanation, the 7-8 Hz response was attenuated by 90 deg head roll or yaw, both of which uncouple the inter-aural axis from the medio-lateral sway axis. These results demonstrate two vertical torque responses to electrical vestibular stimulation in standing subjects. The high frequency response can be attributed to mechanical coupling to evoked medio-lateral sway. The low frequency response is consistent with a reaction to a sensation of head roll, and provides a novel method for investigating proprioceptive-vestibular interactions during stance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3943-3953
Number of pages11
JournalThe Journal of Physiology
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2011


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