Somatosensory influence on postural response to galvanic vestibular stimulation

F. Hlavačka, F. B. Horak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


We investigated how postural responses to galvanic vestibular stimulation were affected by standing on a translating support surface and by somatosensory loss due to diabetic neuropathy. We tested the hypothesis that an unstable surface and somatosensory loss can result in an increase of vestibulospinal sensitivity. Bipolar galvanic vestibular stimulation was applied to subjects who were standing on a force platform, either on a hard, stationary surface or during a backward platform translation (9 cm, 4.2 cm/s). The intensity of the galvanic stimulus was varied from 0.25 to 1mA. The amplitude of the peak body CoP displacement in response to the galvanic stimulus was plotted as a function of stimulus intensity for each individual. A larger increase in CoP displacement to a given increase in galvanic current was interpreted as an increase of vestibulospinal sensitivity. Subjects with somatosensory loss in the feet due to diabetes showed higher vestibulospinal sensitivity than healthy subjects when tested on a stationary support surface. Control subjects and patients with somatosensory loss standing on translating surface also showed increased galvanic response gains compared to stance on a stationary surface. The severity of the somatosensory loss in the feet correlated with the increased postural sensitivity to galvanic vestibular stimulation. These results showed that postural responses to galvanic vestibular stimulus were modified by somatosensory information from the surface. Somatosensory loss due to diabetic neuropathy and alteration of somatosensory input during stance on translating support surface resulted in increased vestibulospinal sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S121-S127
JournalPhysiological Research
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006



  • Posture
  • Sensory integration
  • Somatosensory
  • Vestibular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

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