, Volume 70, Issue 3, pp 470-476

Frequency and velocity of rotational head perturbations during locomotion

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Summary

We used the magnetic search coil technique to record horizontal (yaw) and vertical (pitch) head rotations of 20 normal subjects during (1) walking in place, (2) running in place, (3) vigorous, voluntary, horizontal head rotation and (4) vigorous, voluntary, vertical head rotation. During walking or running, the predominant frequency of pitch rotations was at least twice that of yaw rotations. During running, the median, predominant pitch frequency from all subjects was 3.2 Hz, but significant harmonics were present up to 15-20 Hz in several subjects. Group median maximal head velocity during walking or running did not exceed 90 degrees/ second. During vigorous, voluntary head rotations median frequency for yaw and pitch was similar and did not exceed 2.6 Hz. However, group median maximal head velocity during vigorous voluntary yaw rotation was 780 degrees/second. Thus, (1) during locomotion, the head is stabilized in space incompletely but adequately so that the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) is not saturated, (2) during vigorous, voluntary head rotations, the maximum head velocity exceeds the range where the VOR can stabilize gaze, (3) the frequencies of head rotations that occur during locomotion greatly exceed frequencies conventionally used in the laboratory for testing the VOR.