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Cereb Cortex. 2015 Feb;25(2):554-62. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bht266. Epub 2013 Sep 26.

The neuroanatomical correlates of training-related perceptuo-reflex uncoupling in dancers.

Author information

1
Neuro-Otology Unit, Division of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London, London W6 8RP, UK.
2
The Computational, Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory, Imperial College London, The Hammersmith Hospital, London W12 0NN, UK and.
3
Institute of Neurology, UCL, London WC1N 3BG, UK.

Abstract

Sensory input evokes low-order reflexes and higher-order perceptual responses. Vestibular stimulation elicits vestibular-ocular reflex (VOR) and self-motion perception (e.g., vertigo) whose response durations are normally equal. Adaptation to repeated whole-body rotations, for example, ballet training, is known to reduce vestibular responses. We investigated the neuroanatomical correlates of vestibular perceptuo-reflex adaptation in ballet dancers and controls. Dancers' vestibular-reflex and perceptual responses to whole-body yaw-plane step rotations were: (1) Briefer and (2) uncorrelated (controls' reflex and perception were correlated). Voxel-based morphometry showed a selective gray matter (GM) reduction in dancers' vestibular cerebellum correlating with ballet experience. Dancers' vestibular cerebellar GM density reduction was related to shorter perceptual responses (i.e. positively correlated) but longer VOR duration (negatively correlated). Contrastingly, controls' vestibular cerebellar GM density negatively correlated with perception and VOR. Diffusion-tensor imaging showed that cerebral cortex white matter (WM) microstructure correlated with vestibular perception but only in controls. In summary, dancers display vestibular perceptuo-reflex dissociation with the neuronatomical correlate localized to the vestibular cerebellum. Controls' robust vestibular perception correlated with a cortical WM network conspicuously absent in dancers. Since primary vestibular afferents synapse in the vestibular cerebellum, we speculate that a cerebellar gating of perceptual signals to cortical regions mediates the training-related attenuation of vestibular perception and perceptuo-reflex uncoupling.

KEYWORDS:

dancers; perceptuo-reflex uncoupling; training; vestibular perception; vestibular-ocular reflex

PMID:
24072889
PMCID:
PMC4380084
DOI:
10.1093/cercor/bht266
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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