Vestibular Stimulation and Reintegration

Does vestibular stimulation activate thalamocortical mechanisms that reintegrate impaired cortical regions?

Nicholas D. Schiff and Melissa Pulver

Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 266, 421-423 (1999)


Caloric stimulation induced a transient reversal of multi-modal hemispatial cognitive deficits in an 81 year woman with an acute left cerebral hemisphere stroke. The patient had unawareness of her right hand (asomatognosia), right-sided visual unawareness (hemineglect), aphasia and right-sided weakness (hemiplegia) prior to the stimulation. Transient improvements in impaired sensory, motor, linguistic and cognitive function developed within 30 seconds following application of the caloric stimulus and onset of horizontal nystagmus. The effect persisted for three minutes and ceased completely after five. While several recent reports have described the capacity of caloric stimulation to transiently improve or reverse a wide range of attentional, cognitive, and motor impairments (Vallar et al., 1997), most examples are in right hemisphere damaged patients with long-standing brain injury. Typically, patients have been tested several months or years after the onset of the deficit. A possible mechanism for the temporary reintegration of multiple cognitive functions in this patient is discussed.

Download as pdf, courtesy of The Royal Society
Publications related to consciousness and brain dynamics
Return to publications list