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Binocular Misalignments Elicited by Altered Gravity Provide Evidence for Nonlinear Central Compensation

By Kara H. Beaton, W. Cary Huffman and Michael C. Schubert and Michael C. Schubert


Increased ocular positioning misalignments upon exposure to altered gravity levels (g-levels) have been strongly correlated with space motion sickness severity, possibly due to underlying otolith asymmetries uncompensated in novel gravitational environments. We investigated vertical and torsional ocular positioning misalignments elicited by the 0g and 1.8g g-levels of parabolic flight and used these data to develop a computational model to describe how such misalignments might arise. Ocular misalignments were inferred through two perceptual nulling tasks: Vertical Alignment Nulling (VAN) and Torsional Alignment Nulling (TAN). All test subjects exhibited significant differences in ocular misalignments in the novel g-levels, which we postulate to be the result of healthy individuals with 1g-tuned central compensatory mechanisms unadapted to the parabolic flight environment. Furthermore, the magnitude and direction of ocular misalignments in hypo-g and hyper-g, in comparison to 1g, were nonlinear and nonmonotonic. Previous linear models of central compensation do not predict this. Here we show that a single model of the form a+bg^ε, where a, b, and ε are the model parameters and g is the current g-level, accounts for both the vertical and torsional ocular misalignment data observed inflight. Furthering our understanding of oculomotor control is critical for the development of interventions that promote adaptation in spaceflight (e.g., countermeasures for novel g-level exposure) and terrestrial (e.g., rehabilitation protocols for vestibular pathology) environments

Topics: vestibular, Model, oculomotor, otolith, gravity, parabolic flight, Neurosciences. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry, RC321-571
Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
Year: 2015
DOI identifier: 10.3389/fnsys.2015.00081
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