Scientific article

Where is straight ahead to a patient with unilateral vestibular loss?

Published inCortex, vol. 49, no. 5, p. 1219-1228
Publication date2013

The vestibular system is classically associated with postural control, oculomotor reflexes and self-motion perception. The patients with vestibular loss are primarily concerned with balance and gait problems including head and trunk tilt and walking trajectory deviation to the lesioned side. These long-lasting postural and locomotor biases are thought to originate from changes in spatial perception of self. Indeed, we show here that vestibular cues are necessary for an accurate representation of body orientation. Patients with right (RVN; n=11) or left vestibular neurotomy (LVN; 9) as a treatment for Menière's disease were compared with 10 healthy controls. The subjective straight ahead (SSA) was investigated using a method disentangling lateral shift and tilt components of error. In the horizontal plane, subjects were required to align a rod with their body midline. In the frontal plane, they were asked to align the rod with the midline of head or trunk. The analysis of SSA clearly showed distinct results according to the side of the lesion. The LVN patients had a contralesional lateral shift of SSA. In addition, they showed an ipsilesional tilt, more severe for the head than for the trunk. By contrast, in RVN patients, the representation of the body midline was fairly accurate in both the horizontal and frontal planes and did not differ from that of control subjects. The present study shows deviations in body orientation representation after unilateral vestibular loss. Deviations are observed in the horizontal as well as in the frontal planes. Interestingly, only patients with left vestibular loss were concerned with these changes in perception of self-orientation in space. These data support the hypothesis of an asymmetric vestibular function in healthy subjects and confirm the similarity of functional disorders in patients with vestibular deficits or spatial neglect. For the first time, this similarity is found at the level of body representation.

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality/physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motion Perception/physiology
  • Orientation/physiology
  • Perceptual Disorders/physiopathology
  • Postural Balance/physiology
  • Space Perception/physiology
  • Autre - The Geneva Academic Society (Fund Foremane)
Citation (ISO format)
SAJ, Arnaud et al. Where is straight ahead to a patient with unilateral vestibular loss? In: Cortex, 2013, vol. 49, n° 5, p. 1219–1228. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2012.05.019
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0010-9452

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