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Exp Brain Res. 1998 Sep;122(1):101-7.

Encoding target-trunk relative position: cervical versus vestibular contribution.

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MRC Human Movement and Balance Unit, Institute of Neurology, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, UK.


The contribution of cervical and vestibular cues in signaling the changes in target-trunk relative positions during self-motion was investigated. Normal subjects (Ss) were shown a LED flashed in the peripheral visual field in a dark room. Ss were then passively rotated about the vertical axis in one of three different conditions: (1) head chair-fixed (vestibular condition); (2) head earth-fixed (relaxed neck condition); and (3) head earth-fixed, but with the Ss actively attempting to turn it (activated neck condition). The Ss were then required to indicate, with their unseen index finger, the position of the previously flashed target. It was found that pointing at the memorized target was similarly accurate in the relaxed neck condition and in the activated neck condition. In the vestibular condition, pointing accuracy dropped significantly. These results suggest that neck proprioceptive signals are more effective than vestibular ones in signaling relative changes in the position of stationary objects with respect to the body during head-trunk motion. The finding that cervically mediated estimates were unchanged during active contraction of the neck muscles may suggests that efference copy signals may help interpret the change in the afferent signals caused by voluntary neck muscle activation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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