Influence of Caloric Vestibular Stimulation on Body Experience in Healthy Humans.
ABSTRACT: The vestibular system has more connections with and influence on higher cortical centers than previously thought. These interactions with higher cortical centers and the phenomena that they elicit require a structural intact cerebral cortex. To date, little is known about the role and influence of the vestibular system on one's body experience. In this study we show that caloric vestibular stimulation (CVS) in healthy participants has an effect on the perceptive component of one's body experience. After CVS all participants showed a statistically significant difference of thigh width estimation. In contrast to previous studies, which demonstrated an influence of CVS on higher cortical centers with an intact cerebral cortex both the cognitive and affective component of body experience were not effected by the CVS. Our results demonstrate the influence of the vestibular system on body perception and emphasize its role in modulating different perceptive-qualities which contributes to our body experience. We found that CVS has a limited influence on one's conscious state, thought process and higher cortical functions.
Project description:Impaired insight into illness (IMP-INS) is common among individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD), contributing to medication nonadherence and poor clinical outcomes. Caloric vestibular simulation (CVS) is typically used to assess peripheral vestibular system function. Left cold CVS is also a transiently effective treatment for IMP-INS and hemineglect secondary to right brain hemisphere stroke, and possibly for IMP-INS and mood stabilization in patients with SSD. Participants with SSD and moderate-to-severe IMP-INS participated in an exploratory double blind, crossover, randomized controlled study of the effects of CVS on IMP-INS. Participants sequentially received all experimental conditions-left cold (4°C), right cold, and body temperature/sham CVS-in a random order. Repeated measures ANOVA were performed to compare changes in IMP-INS, mood and positive symptom severity pre and 30min post CVS. A significant interaction was found between CVS condition, time, and body temperature nystagmus peak slow phase velocity (PSPV) for IMP-INS, indicating that single session left cold CVS transiently improved IMP-INS while right cold CVS may have worsened IMP-INS, particularly in participants with greater vestibular reactivity (i.e. higher PSPV) to body temperature CVS. The procedure's effectiveness is attributed to stimulation of underactive right hemisphere circuits via vestibular nuclei projections to the contralateral hemisphere.
Project description:Virtual Reality (VR) is used for a variety of applications ranging from entertainment to psychological medicine. VR has been demonstrated to influence higher order cognitive functions and cortical plasticity, with implications on phobia and stroke treatment. An integral part for successful VR is a high sense of presence - a feeling of 'being there' in the virtual scenario. The underlying cognitive and perceptive functions causing presence in VR scenarios are however not completely known. It is evident that the brain function is influenced by drugs, such as ethanol, potentially confounding cortical plasticity, also in VR. As ethanol is ubiquitous and forms part of daily life, understanding the effects of ethanol on presence and user experience, the attitudes and emotions about using VR applications, is important. This exploratory study aims at contributing towards an understanding of how low-dose ethanol intake influences presence, user experience and their relationship in a validated VR context. It was found that low-level ethanol consumption did influence presence and user experience, but on a minimal level. In contrast, correlations between presence and user experience were strongly influenced by low-dose ethanol. Ethanol consumption may consequently alter cognitive and perceptive functions related to the connections between presence and user experience.
Project description:Caloric vestibular stimulation (CVS) to elicit the vestibulo-ocular reflex has long been used in clinical settings to aid in the diagnosis of balance disorders and to confirm the absence of brainstem function. While a number of studies have hinted at the potential therapeutic applications of CVS, the limitations of existing devices have frustrated that potential. Current CVS irrigators use water or air during short-duration applications; however, this approach is not tenable for longer duration therapeutic protocols or home use. Here, we describe a solid-state CVS device we developed in order to address these limitations. This device delivers tightly controlled time-varying thermal waveforms, which can be programmed through an external control unit. It contains several safety features, which limit patients to the prescribed waveform and prevent the potential for temperature extremes. In this paper, we provide evidence that CVS treatment with time-varying, but not constant temperature waveforms, elicits changes in cerebral blood flow physiology consistent with the neuromodulation of brainstem centers, and we present results from a small pilot study, which demonstrate that the CVS can safely and feasibly be used longitudinally in the home setting to treat episodic migraine. Together, these results indicate that this solid-state CVS device may be a viable tool for non-invasive neuromodulation.
Project description:Background:Bodily self-consciousness depends on the coherent integration of sensory information. In addition to visual and somatosensory information processing, vestibular contributions have been proposed and investigated. Vestibular information seems especially important for self-location, but remains difficult to study. Methods:This randomised controlled experiment used the MIRAGE multisensory illusion box to induce a conflict between the visually- and proprioceptively-encoded position of one hand. Over time, the perceived location of the hand slowly shifts, due to the fact that proprioceptive input is progressively weighted more heavily than the visual input. We hypothesised that left cold caloric vestibular stimulation (CVS) augments this shift in hand localisation. Results:The results from 24 healthy participants do not support our hypothesis: CVS had no effect on the estimations with which the perceived position of the hand shifted from the visually- to the proprioceptively-encoded position. Participants were more likely to report that their hand was 'no longer there' after CVS. Taken together, neither the physical nor the subjective data provide evidence for vestibular enhanced self-location.
Project description:The experience of our body as our own (i.e. body ownership) involves integrating different sensory signals according to their contextual relevance (i.e. multisensory integration). Until recently, most studies of multisensory integration and body ownership concerned only vision, touch and proprioception; the role of other modalities, such as the vestibular system and interoception, has been neglected and remains poorly understood. In particular, no study to date has directly explored the combined effect of vestibular and interoceptive signals on body ownership. Here, we investigated for the first time how Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation (left, right, sham), tactile affectivity (a reclassified interoceptive modality manipulated by applying touch at C-tactile optimal versus non-optimal velocities), and their combination, influence proprioceptive and subjective measures of body ownership during a rubber hand illusion paradigm with healthy participants (N?=?26). Our results show that vestibular stimulation (left GVS) significantly increased proprioceptive drift towards the rubber hand during mere visual exposure to the rubber hand. Moreover, it also enhanced participants' proprioceptive drift towards the rubber hand during manipulations of synchronicity and affective touch. These findings suggest that the vestibular system influences multisensory integration, possibly by re-weighting both the two-way relationship between proprioception and vision, as well as the three-way relationship between proprioception, vision and affective touch. We discuss these findings in relation to current predictive coding models of multisensory integration and body ownership.
Project description:Recognition of older people's body expressions is a crucial social skill. We here investigate how age, not just of the observer, but also of the observed individual, affects this skill. Age may influence the ability to recognize other people's body expressions by changes in one's own ability to perform certain action over the life-span (i.e., an own-age bias may occur, with best recognition for one's own age). Whole body point light displays of children, young adults and older adults (>70 years) expressing six different emotions were presented to observers of the same three age-groups. Across two variations of the paradigm, no evidence for the predicted own-age bias (a cross-over interaction between one's own age and the observed person's age) was found. Instead, experience effects were found with children better recognizing older actors' expressions of 'active emotions,' such as anger and happiness with greater exposure in daily life. Together, the findings suggest that age-related changes in one own's mobility only influences body expression categorization in young children who interact frequently with older adults.
Project description:Current neuroscientific models of bodily self-consciousness (BSC) argue that inaccurate integration of sensory signals leads to altered states of BSC. Indeed, using virtual reality technology, observers viewing a fake or virtual body while being exposed to tactile stimulation of the real body, can experience illusory ownership over-and mislocalization towards-the virtual body (Full-Body Illusion, FBI). Among the sensory inputs contributing to BSC, the vestibular system is believed to play a central role due to its importance in estimating self-motion and orientation. This theory is supported by clinical evidence that vestibular loss patients are more prone to altered BSC states, and by recent experimental evidence that visuo-vestibular conflicts can disrupt BSC in healthy individuals. Nevertheless, the contribution of vestibular information and self-motion perception to BSC remains largely unexplored. Here, we investigate the relationship between alterations of BSC and self-motion sensitivity in healthy individuals. Fifteen participants were exposed to visuo-vibrotactile conflicts designed to induce an FBI, and subsequently to visual rotations that evoked illusory self-motion (vection). We found that synchronous visuo-vibrotactile stimulation successfully induced the FBI, and further observed a relationship between the strength of the FBI and the time necessary for complete vection to arise. Specifically, higher self-reported FBI scores across synchronous and asynchronous conditions were associated to shorter vection latencies. Our findings are in agreement with clinical observations that vestibular loss patients have higher FBI susceptibility and lower vection latencies, and argue for increased visual over vestibular dependency during altered states of BSC.
Project description:The orientation of the body in space can influence perception of verticality leading sometimes to biases consistent with priors peaked at the most common head and body orientation, that is upright. In this study, we investigate haptic perception of verticality in sighted individuals and early and late blind adults when tilted counterclockwise in the roll plane. Participants were asked to perform a stimulus orientation discrimination task with their body tilted to their left ear side 90° relative to gravity. Stimuli were presented by using a motorized haptic bar. In order to test whether different reference frames relative to the head influenced perception of verticality, we varied the position of the stimulus on the body longitudinal axis. Depending on the stimulus position sighted participants tended to have biases away or toward their body tilt. Visually impaired individuals instead show a different pattern of verticality estimations. A bias toward head and body tilt (i.e., Aubert effect) was observed in late blind individuals. Interestingly, no strong biases were observed in early blind individuals. Overall, these results posit visual sensory information to be fundamental in influencing the haptic readout of proprioceptive and vestibular information about body orientation relative to gravity. The acquisition of an idiotropic vector signaling the upright might take place through vision during development. Regarding early blind individuals, independent spatial navigation experience likely enhanced by echolocation behavior might have a role in such acquisition. In the case of participants with late onset blindness, early experience of vision might lead them to anchor their visually acquired priors to the haptic modality with no disambiguation between head and body references as observed in sighted individuals (Fraser et al., 2015). With our study, we aim to investigate haptic perception of gravity direction in unusual body tilts when vision is absent due to visual impairment. Insofar, our findings throw light on the influence of proprioceptive/vestibular sensory information on haptic perceived verticality in blind individuals showing how this phenomenon is affected by visual experience.
Project description:Head movement imposes the additional burdens on the visual system of maintaining visual acuity and determining the origin of retinal image motion (i.e., self-motion vs. object-motion). Although maintaining visual acuity during self-motion is effected by minimizing retinal slip via the brainstem vestibular-ocular reflex, higher order visuovestibular mechanisms also contribute. Disambiguating self-motion versus object-motion also invokes higher order mechanisms, and a cortical visuovestibular reciprocal antagonism is propounded. Hence, one prediction is of a vestibular modulation of visual cortical excitability and indirect measures have variously suggested none, focal or global effects of activation or suppression in human visual cortex. Using transcranial magnetic stimulation-induced phosphenes to probe cortical excitability, we observed decreased V5/MT excitability versus increased early visual cortex (EVC) excitability, during vestibular activation. In order to exclude nonspecific effects (e.g., arousal) on cortical excitability, response specificity was assessed using information theory, specifically response entropy. Vestibular activation significantly modulated phosphene response entropy for V5/MT but not EVC, implying a specific vestibular effect on V5/MT responses. This is the first demonstration that vestibular activation modulates human visual cortex excitability. Furthermore, using information theory, not previously used in phosphene response analysis, we could distinguish between a specific vestibular modulation of V5/MT excitability from a nonspecific effect at EVC.
Project description:Both visual and vestibular sensory cues are important for perceiving one's direction of heading during self-motion. Previous studies have identified multisensory, heading-selective neurons in the dorsal medial superior temporal area (MSTd) and the ventral intraparietal area (VIP). Both MSTd and VIP have strong recurrent connections with the pursuit area of the frontal eye field (FEFsem), but whether FEFsem neurons may contribute to multisensory heading perception remain unknown. We characterized the tuning of macaque FEFsem neurons to visual, vestibular, and multisensory heading stimuli. About two-thirds of FEFsem neurons exhibited significant heading selectivity based on either vestibular or visual stimulation. These multisensory neurons shared many properties, including distributions of tuning strength and heading preferences, with MSTd and VIP neurons. Fisher information analysis also revealed that the average FEFsem neuron was almost as sensitive as MSTd or VIP cells. Visual and vestibular heading preferences in FEFsem tended to be either matched (congruent cells) or discrepant (opposite cells), such that combined stimulation strengthened heading selectivity for congruent cells but weakened heading selectivity for opposite cells. These findings demonstrate that, in addition to oculomotor functions, FEFsem neurons also exhibit properties that may allow them to contribute to a cortical network that processes multisensory heading cues.