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Title: Otolith function in human subjects : perception of motion, reflex eye movements and vision during linear interaural acceleration
Author: Gianna, Claire Cecile
ISNI:       0000 0001 3496 3911
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1997
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The thesis investigates how the otolith organs of the vestibular system, specifically the utricles, assist motion perception and aid visual stabilization, during translational lateral whole-body acceleration. It was found that high gradients of acceleration facilitate the detection of motion and that, for low acceleration gradients, motion perception in normal subjects relies on a 'velocity' threshold detection process. Experiments in patients without vestibular function indicated that, for the stimuli employed, the somatosensory system could be as sensitive to linear motion as the vestibular system. The interaction between the horizontal linear vestibulo-ocular reflex (LVOR) and visual context was characterized in the following experiments. Subjects were accelerated transiently in darkness, or while viewing earth-fixed or head-fixed targets. From onset, the eye velocity response to head translation was enhanced with acceleration level and target proximity, but was only slightly reduced by fixation of head-fixed targets. This suggested that the gain of the LVOR pathway was adjusted before or immediately after motion onset by a parameter depending mainly on viewing distance and less on the knowledge of probable relative target motion. For high relative target velocities, LVORs improved ocular fixation over what would be attained by pursuit alone, although fully compensatory eye movements were not always produced. The LVORs of patients who underwent unilateral vestibular deafferentation suggested that the utricular area generating transaural LVORs is the macular region lateral to the striola. Psychophysical experiments based on a reading task established the functional role of the LVOR for stabilising vision during high-frequency sinusoidal whole-body acceleration. Unlike normal subjects, visual acuity in patients without vestibular function was not better during self-motion than during display oscillation. Finally, the LVOR interaction with canal-ocular reflexes was studied using isolated and combined translational/rotational stimuli. The results showed that, shortly after motion onset, canal stimulation enhances the LVOR evoked by head translation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Physiology