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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Modulation of stochastic vestibular stimulation-induced reflexes within a dynamic balance paradigm : the effect of response phase and emotional state Lim, Shannon B


The vestibular system is a complex network that plays an important role in balance control. When postural perturbations are exerted on the individual, it appears that the vestibular system plays a role in modulating the amplitude of the responses. The vestibular system is also susceptible to changes in psychosocial and autonomic states. Despite these findings, the inability to precisely record from and directly manipulate the system has hindered the field in completely understanding how the vestibular system is involved in balance. Therefore, the purposes of this thesis were 1) to investigate if there was phase-dependent modulation of the vestibular reflex during the postural responses and 2) to determine if the vestibular reflex was altered with postural threat. Stochastic vestibular stimulation (SVS) was used to electrically probe the vestibular system while participants stood on a rotating platform. The vestibular reflex was analyzed by estimating the vestibulo-muscular (SVS-EMG) relationship using time-dependent SVS-EMG coherence throughout the postural response for the first purpose while, for the second purpose, SVS-EMG coherence, cumulant density, and gain were calculated between non-threatening and threatening conditions. Results from this thesis were unable to determine if there were phase-dependent modulations of the SVS-induced vestibular reflex. However, further testing and pilot data provides a promising method for further investigation. Furthermore, an increase gain in and coupling of the vestibular reflex was observed in the most muscles while a decrease in coupling was observed for the paraspinal muscles in the threatening situation. These results suggest that the central nervous system has the ability to prepare the body for responding to an upcoming postural perturbation by optimizing the vestibular output to the muscles.

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