Sensory Interactions for Human Balance Control Revealed by Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation

  • Brian L. Day
  • Michel Guerraz
  • Jonathan Cole
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 508)


Many types of sensory information are known to contribute to the human balance control process but little is known about how the different sensory channels interact. Here we consider the postural response to a perturbation delivered to the vestibular channel using galvanic vestibular stimulation. We show that the response is modified by the absence of information in the other sensory channels. Removal of somatosensory information leads to a massive increase in response size. Similarly, removal of visual information augments the response. Furthermore, the response size is graded according to the amount of visual information available. These effects occur through two processes. One that influences the developing response through feedback mechanisms and another that influences the initial response selection through gain changes. The latter is described as a competitive process that can be likened to a proportional representation voting system.


Postural Response Experimental Brain Research Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation Sensory Channel Somatosensory Information 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Britton, T. C., Day, B. L., Brown, P., Rothwell, J. C., Thompson, P. D., and Marsden, C. D., 1993, Postural electromyographic responses in the arm and leg following galvanic vestibular stimulation in manExperimental Brain Research94, 143–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bronstein, A. M., and Buckwell, D., 1997, Automatic control of postural sway by visual motion parallaxExperimental Brain Research113, 243–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Coates, A. C., 1973, Effect of varying stimulus parameters on the galvanic body-sway responseAnnals of Otology Rhinology and Laryngology82, 96–102.Google Scholar
  4. Cole, J., 1995Pride and a daily marathonThe MIT Press, Boston, Mass.Google Scholar
  5. Cole, J. D., and Sedgwick, E. M., 1992, The perceptions of force and of movement in a man without large myelinated sensory afferents below the neckJournal of Physiology449, 503–515.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Coupon, J. H., Precht, W., and Sirkin, D. W., 1987, Vestibular nerve and nuclei unit responses and eye movement responses to repetitive galvanic stimulation of the labyrinth in the ratExperimental Brain Research66, 41–48.Google Scholar
  7. Day, B. L., S¨¦verac Cauquil, A., Bartolomei, L., Pastor, M. A., and Lyon, I. N., 1997, Human body-segment tilts induced by galvanic stimulation: a vestibularly driven balance protection mechanismJournal of Physiology500, 661–672.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Eklund, G., 1972, General features of vibration-induced effects on balanceUpsala Journal of Medical Science 77112–124.Google Scholar
  9. Fitzpatrick, R., Burke, D., and Gandevia, S. C., 1994, Task-dependent reflex responses and movement illusions evoked by galvanic vestibular stimulation in standing humansJournal of Physiology478, 363–372.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Goldberg, J. M., Smith, C. E., and Femandez, C., 1984, Relation between discharge regularity and responses to externally applied galvanic currents in vestibular nerve afferents of the squirrel monkeyJournal of Neurophysiology51, 1236–1256.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Hiyashi, R., Miyake, A., Jijiwa, H., and Watanabe, S., 1981, Postural readjustment to body sway induced by vibration inman Experimental Brain Research43, 217–225.Google Scholar
  12. Hlavacka, F., Krizkova, M., and Horak, F. B., 1995, Modification of human postural response to leg muscle vibration by electrical vestibular stimulationNeuroscience Letters189, 9–12.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kavounoudias, A., Roll, R., and Roll, J.-P., 1998, The plantar sole is a ‘dynamometric map’ for human balance controlNeuroreport9, 3247–3252.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kavounoudias, A., Roll, R., and Roll, J.-P., 2001, Foot sole and ankle muscle inputs contribute jointly to human erect posture regulationJournal of Physiology532, 869–878.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lestienne, F., Soechting, J. F., and Berthoz, A., 1977, Postural readjustments induced by linear motion of visual scenesExperimental Brain Research28, 363–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lowenstein, o., 1955, The effect of galvanic polarization on the impulse discharge from sense endings in the isolated labyrinth of the thornback ray (raja clavata)Journal of Physiology127, 104–117.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Lund, S., and Broberg, C., 1983, Effects of different head positions on postural sway in man induced by a reproducible vestibular en-or signalActa Physiologica Scandinavica 117307–309.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Nashner, L. M., and Wolfson, P., 1974, Influence of head position and proprioceptive cues on short latency postural reflexes evoked by galvanic stimulation of the human labyrinthBrain Research67, 255–268.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Njiokiktjien, C., and Folkerts, J. F., 1971, Displacement of the body’s centre of gravity at galvanic stimulation of the labyrinthConfinia Neurologica 3346–54.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Pastor, M. A., Day, B. L., and Marsden, C. D., 1993, Vestibular induced postural responses in Parkinson’s diseaseBrain116, 1177–1190.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Smetanin, B. N., Popov, K. E., and Shlykov, V. Yu., 1990, Changes in vestibular postural response determined by information content of visual feedbackNeirofiziologiya22, 80–87.Google Scholar
  22. Sterman, A. B., Schumberg, H. H., and Asbury, A. K., 1980, The acute sensory neuropathy syndrome: a distinct clinical entityAnnals of Neurology7, 354–358.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian L. Day
    • 1
  • Michel Guerraz
    • 2
  • Jonathan Cole
    • 3
  1. 1.MRC Human Movement GroupSobell Department, Institute of NeurologyLondonUK
  2. 2.Laboratoire “Sport, Performance, Sante”UFR STAPSMontpellierFrance
  3. 3.Cole, Department of Clinical NeurosciencesUniversity of Southampton and Poole HospitalUK

Personalised recommendations