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Vestibular and oculomotor influences on visual dependency.

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-07-19, 15:03 authored by RE Roberts, M Da Silva Melo, AA Siddiqui, Q Arshad, M Patel
The degree to which a person relies on visual stimuli for spatial orientation is termed visual dependency (VD). VD is considered a perceptual trait or cognitive style influenced by psychological factors and mediated by central reweighting of the sensory inputs involved in spatial orientation. VD is often measured with the rod-and-disk test, in which participants align a central rod to the subjective visual vertical (SVV) in the presence of a background that is either stationary or rotating around the line of sight-dynamic SVV. Although this task has been employed to assess VD in health and vestibular disease, what effect torsional nystagmic eye movements may have on individual performance is unknown. Using caloric ear irrigation, 3D video-oculography, and the rod-and-disk test, we show that caloric torsional nystagmus modulates measures of VD and demonstrate that increases in tilt after irrigation are positively correlated with changes in ocular torsional eye movements. When the direction of the slow phase of the torsional eye movement induced by the caloric is congruent with that induced by the rotating visual stimulus, there is a significant increase in tilt. When these two torsional components are in opposition, there is a decrease. These findings show that measures of VD can be influenced by oculomotor responses induced by caloric stimulation. The findings are of significance for clinical studies, as they indicate that VD, which often increases in vestibular disorders, is modulated not only by changes in cognitive style but also by eye movements, in particular nystagmus.


This research was supported by the UK Medical Research Council (MR/J004685/1) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Imperial Biomedical Research Centre.



Journal of Neurophysiology, 2016, 116 (3), pp. 1480-1487

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF LIFE SCIENCES/Biological Sciences/Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour


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Journal of Neurophysiology


American Physiological Society



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