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J Neurophysiol. 2018 Oct 1;120(4):1572-1577. doi: 10.1152/jn.00379.2018. Epub 2018 Jul 18.

Relationship between vestibular sensitivity and multisensory temporal integration.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Oregon Health and Science University , Portland, Oregon.
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Department of Otolaryngology, Harvard Medical School , Boston, Massachusetts.
Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School , Boston, Massachusetts.
Jenks Vestibular Physiology Laboratory, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, Massachusetts.
National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research-VA Portland Health Care System , Portland, Oregon.
Department of Neurology, Oregon Health and Science University , Portland, Oregon.


A single event can generate asynchronous sensory cues due to variable encoding, transmission, and processing delays. To be interpreted as being associated in time, these cues must occur within a limited time window, referred to as a "temporal binding window" (TBW). We investigated the hypothesis that vestibular deficits could disrupt temporal visual-vestibular integration by determining the relationships between vestibular threshold and TBW in participants with normal vestibular function and with vestibular hypofunction. Vestibular perceptual thresholds to yaw rotation were characterized and compared with the TBWs obtained from participants who judged whether a suprathreshold rotation occurred before or after a brief visual stimulus. Vestibular thresholds ranged from 0.7 to 16.5 deg/s and TBWs ranged from 13.8 to 395 ms. Among all participants, TBW and vestibular thresholds were well correlated ( R2 = 0.674, P < 0.001), with vestibular-deficient patients having higher thresholds and wider TBWs. Participants reported that the rotation onset needed to lead the light flash by an average of 80 ms for the visual and vestibular cues to be perceived as occurring simultaneously. The wide TBWs in vestibular-deficient participants compared with normal functioning participants indicate that peripheral sensory loss can lead to abnormal multisensory integration. A reduced ability to temporally combine sensory cues appropriately may provide a novel explanation for some symptoms reported by patients with vestibular deficits. Even among normal functioning participants, a high correlation between TBW and vestibular thresholds was observed, suggesting that these perceptual measurements are sensitive to small differences in vestibular function. NEW & NOTEWORTHY While spatial visual-vestibular integration has been well characterized, the temporal integration of these cues is not well understood. The relationship between sensitivity to whole body rotation and duration of the temporal window of visual-vestibular integration was examined using psychophysical techniques. These parameters were highly correlated for those with normal vestibular function and for patients with vestibular hypofunction. Reduced temporal integration performance in patients with vestibular hypofunction may explain some symptoms associated with vestibular loss.


motion perception; perceptual threshold; temporal binding; temporal integration; vestibular hypofunction

[Available on 2019-10-01]

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