We tested the hypothesis that random variations in the magnitude of sinusoidal linear acceleration cause greater modulation of skin sympathetic nerve activity (SSNA), but not muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA), than sinusoidal stimuli of the same frequency but constant amplitude. Subjects (n = 22) were seated in a sealed room mounted on a linear motor that could deliver peak sinusoidal accelerations of 30 mG in the antero-posterior direction. Subjects sat on a padded chair with their neck and head supported vertically, thereby minimizing somatosensory cues, facing the direction of motion in the anterior direction. Each block of sinusoidal motion was delivered at 0.2 Hz, either with a constant-amplitude (root mean square 14 mG) or randomly fluctuating amplitudes of the same mean amplitude. MSNA (n = 12) and SSNA (n = 10) were recorded via tungsten microelectrodes inserted into muscle or cutaneous fascicles of the common peroneal nerve. Cross-correlation analysis was used to measure the magnitude of vestibular modulation. The modulation index for SSNA was significantly higher during delivery of random vs constant-amplitude acceleration (31.4 ± 1.9 vs 24.5 ± 2.5%), but there was no significant difference in the modulation indices for MSNA (28.8 ± 2.9 vs 33.4 ± 4.1%). We conclude that the pattern of vestibular stimulation affects the magnitude of modulation of sympathetic outflow to skin but not to muscle. Presumably, this is related to the subperceptual development of nausea, which is known to be associated with greater vestibular modulation of SSNA but not MSNA.
MSNA Otolithic organs SSNA Sympathetic Vestibular
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This work was supported by grants from the Australian Research Council to KK and VGM (DP1096179 and DP150102652).
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