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The human semicircular canal model of galvanic vestibular stimulation

By Brian L. Day, Elijane Ramsay, Miriam S. Welgampola and Richard C. Fitzpatrick


A vector summation model of the action of galvanic stimuli on the semicircular canals has been shown to explain empirical balance and perceptual responses to binaural-bipolar stimuli. However, published data suggest binaural-monopolar stimuli evoke responses that are in the reverse direction of the model prediction. Here, we confirm this by measuring balance responses to binaural-monopolar stimulation as movements of the upper trunk. One explanation for the discrepancy is that the galvanic stimulus might evoke an oppositely directed balance response from the otolith organs that sums with and overrides the semicircular canal response. We tested this hypothesis by measuring sway responses across the full range of head pitch. The results showed some modulation of sway with pitch such that the maximal response occurred with the head in the primary position. However, the effect fell a long way short of that required to reverse the canal sway response. This indicates that the model is incomplete. Here, we examine alterations to the model that could explain both the bipolar and monopolar-evoked behavioural responses. An explanation was sought by remodelling the canal response with more recent data on the orientation of the individual canals. This improved matters but did not reverse the model prediction. However, the model response could be reversed by either rotating the entire labyrinth in the skull or by altering the gains of the individual canals. The most parsimonious solution was to use the more recent canal orientation data coupled with a small increase in posterior canal gain

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: Springer-Verlag
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Provided by: PubMed Central

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