Neural substrates, dynamics and thresholds of galvanic vestibular stimulation in the behaving primate

Annie Kwan, Patrick A. Forbes, Diana E. Mitchell, Jean Sébastien Blouin, Kathleen E. Cullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
67 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) uses the external application of electrical current to selectively target the vestibular system in humans. Despite its recent popularity for the assessment/treatment of clinical conditions, exactly how this non-invasive tool activates the vestibular system remains an open question. Here we directly investigate single vestibular afferent responses to GVS applied to the mastoid processes of awake-behaving monkeys. Transmastoid GVS produces robust and parallel activation of both canal and otolith afferents. Notably, afferent activation increases with intrinsic neuronal variability resulting in constant GVS-evoked neuronal detection thresholds across all afferents. Additionally, afferent tuning differs for GVS versus natural self-motion stimulation. Using a stochastic model of repetitive activity in afferents, we largely explain the main features of GVS-evoked vestibular afferent dynamics. Taken together, our results reveal the neural substrate underlying transmastoid GVS-evoked perceptual, ocular and postural responses—information that is essential to advance GVS applicability for biomedical uses in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1904
Number of pages15
JournalNature Communications
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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