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Predicting The Susceptibility To Vestibular Sickness Under Conditions Of Weightlessness

  • Ashton Graybiel

Abstract

The fact that Russian scientists considered the labyrinth played an etiological role in the symptoms Titov experienced during his orbital flight was justified not only on theoretical ground but also on the basis of Titov' s account. The fact that other Cosmonauts and Astronauts did not report similar symptoms can be explained on the basis of individual susceptibility. This poses a problem in predicting susceptibility, a problem made difficult by the inability to simulate zero G for long periods under terrestrial conditions. However, there is good evidence that sus ceptibility to symptoms in one type of gravitational - inertial force environment has predictive value for exposure to another type. This formed the point of departure in our studies to clarify the role of the vestibular organs in causing functional disturbances. We compared the symptomatology of persons with labyrinthine defects with normal subjects under a variety of environmental conditions. Our studies, though far from complete, indicate that persons with labyrinthine defects are relatively insusceptible to psychic insults and bizarre or nociceptive stimuli, which may cause symptoms in healthy subjects. Two explanations may be advanced. First, the mere presence of the vestibular organs contributes to the complexity of the integrative patterns in the central nervous system, the disturbance of which gives rise to symptoms of functional origin. Second, episodes of vestibular sickness lead to psychological and physiological conditioning which renders a person susceptible to the conditioned stimulus. This greatly complicates the task of predicting susceptibility to weightlessness, a task which will be even more difficult when not only test pilots but also scientists go aloft.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 1965

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ashton Graybiel
    • 1
  1. 1.US Naval School of Aviation Medicine USNaval Aviation Medical CenterPensacolaUSA

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