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Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2004 Aug-Sep;82(8-9):675-81.

Vestibulospinal influences on lower limb motoneurons.

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School of Human Kinetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1, Canada.


Galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) is a research tool used to activate the vestibular system in human subjects. When a low-intensity stimulus (1-4 mA) is delivered percutaneously to the vestibular nerve, a transient electromyographic response is observed a short time later in lower limb muscles. Typically, galvanically evoked responses are present when the test muscle is actively engaged in controlling standing balance. However, there is evidence to suggest that GVS may be able to modulate the activity of lower limb muscles when subjects are not in a free-standing situation. The purpose of this review is to examine 2 studies from our laboratory that examined the effects of GVS on the lower limb motoneuron pool. For instance, a monopolar monaural galvanic stimulus modified the amplitude of the ipsilateral soleus H-reflex. Furthermore, bipolar binaural GVS significantly altered the onset of activation and the initial firing frequency of gastrocnemius motor units. The following paper examines the effects of GVS on muscles that are not being used to maintain balance. We propose that GVS is modulating motor output by influencing the activity of presynaptic inhibitory mechanisms that act on the motoneuron pool.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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