Vestibular stimulation affects medium latency postural muscle responses

Fay B. Horak, Frantisek Hlavacka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


This study explores whether galvanic vestibular stimulation can alter automatic postural muscle responses triggered 100 ms after surface translations. Our previous study concluded that a step of bipolar, galvanic vestibular stimulation delivered 500 ms prior to a platform translation tilted the internal representation of vertical because subjects' final center of foot pressure and center of mass equilibrium position shifted toward the anode and this tilt was larger than the sum of effects for platform translations and galvanic alone. In the current study, we show that 0.2-0.4 mA of galvanic vestibular stimulation produced significant changes in the tilt of the trunk in space that was realized by changes in the magnitude of the medium latency postural muscle responses at the ankle. The galvanic-induced changes in latency and magnitude of the first 50 ms of gastrocnemius muscle burst in response to the backward surface translation were consistent with changes in background muscle tone induced by the direct vestibulospinal effects of the galvanic current. However, the galvanic-induced changes in the second 50 ms of the gastrocnemius response were in the opposite direction and consistent with the forward-or backward-tilted, final postural equilibrium goal. Kinematic analysis showed that galvanic-induced tilt was first initiated in the trunk and that the shank and thigh segment angles were not altered by galvanic stimulation prior to platform translation such that changes in gastrocnemius and soleus postural responses to translations were not due to an effect of galvanic stimulation on initial ankle angle. More proximal muscles and antagonist muscles involved in the postural response were not altered by the galvanic stimulation. These results suggest that galvanic vestibulospinal stimulation can alter medium latency, automatic postural responses in prime movers by changing the postural equilibrium goal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-102
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Galvanic stimulation
  • Postural responses
  • Vestibular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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