UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The Effect of Roll Circular Vection on Roll Tilt Postural Responses and Roll Subjective Postural Horizontal of Healthy Normal Subjects Cleworth, Taylor W.; Allum, John H. J.; Nielsen, Emma I.; Carpenter, Mark G.


Background: Falls and related injuries are critical issues in several disease states, as well as aging, especially when interactions between vestibular and visual sensory inputs are involved. Slow support surface tilt (0.6 deg/s) followed by subjective postural horizontal (SPH) assessments have been proposed as a viable method for assessing otolith contributions to balance control. Previous assessments of perceived body alignment to vertical, including subjective visual vertical, have suggested that visual inputs are weighted more when vestibular information is near the threshold and less reliable during slow body tilt. To date, no studies have examined the influence of visual stimuli on slow roll-tilt postural responses and the SPH. Therefore, this study investigated how dynamic visual cues, in the form of circular vection (CV), influence postural responses and the perception of the horizontal during and after support surface tilt. Methods: Ten healthy young adults (6 female, mean age 23) wore a head-mounted display while standing on a tilting platform. Participants were asked to remain upright for 30 s, during which (1) the visual scene rotated, inducing roll CV clockwise (CW) or counter-clockwise (CCW) at 60°/s; (2) the platform only (PO) rotated in roll to test SPH (0.6°/s, 2°, CW or CCW); (3) a combination of both; or (4) neither occurred. During SPH trials, participants used a hand-held device to reset the position of the platform to 0.8°/s to their perceived SPH. The angular motion of body segments was measured using pairs of light-emitting diodes mounted on the head, trunk and pelvis. Segment motion, prior to platform motion, was compared to that at peak body motion induced by platform motion and when SPH had been set. Results: When the support surface was tilted 2°, peak upper body tilt significantly increased for congruent CV and platform tilt and decreased at the pelvis for incongruent CV when compared to PO, leading to significant differences across body segments for congruent and incongruent conditions (p ≤ 0.008). During PO, participants’ mean SPH deviated from horizontal by 0.2°. The pelvis deviated 0.2°, the trunk 0.3°, and the head 0.5° in the direction of initial platform rotation. When platform tilt and CV directions were congruent or incongruent, only head tilt at SPH reset under congruent conditions was significantly different from the PO condition (1.7° vs. 0.5°). Conclusions: Roll CV has a significant effect on phasic body responses and a less significant effect on tonic body responses to lateral tilt. The SPH of the support surface was not altered by CV. Responses during tilt demonstrated enhanced reactions for congruent and reduced reactions for incongruent CV, both different from responses to CV alone. Tonic body displacements associated with SPH were changed less than those during tilt and were only slightly larger than displacements for CV alone. This study supports the hypothesis of weighted multisensory integration during dynamic postural tasks being highly dependent on the direction of visual cues during tilt and less dependent on tonic SPH offsets. These techniques could be used to examine vestibular and visual interactions within clinical populations, particularly those with visual vertigo and dizziness.

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