The vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) is responsible for stabilizing images on the fovea during head movements. However, in some situations, one needs to suppress the VOR to be able to follow a target moving along with the head. Evidence suggests that the visual mechanism underlying VOR suppression can be modulated by experience. Unfortunately, the non-visual mechanism underlying VOR suppression has never been examined in dancers and, consequently, it is still unsure whether dance training can enhance eye-head tracking accuracy. The goal of the present study was to look at the influence of dance training on the VOR suppression during passive head impulses. Twenty-four individuals participated, 12 controls and 12 dancers. VOR and VOR suppression were assessed using a head impulse paradigm as well as a suppression head impulse test paradigm (SHIMP) with video head impulse test, respectively. The results suggest that dancers display a significantly reduced VOR gain during the SHIMP at 60 ms in comparison to controls. Moreover, dancers with more than 10 years of dance training exhibited a significantly reduced VOR gain during the SHIMP at 60 ms. Overall, the results suggest that dance training improves VOR suppression, but also modulates VOR suppression abilities. Although studies are needed to shed light on the possible mechanisms involved in the modulation of the VOR gain, the observed changes in dancers’ vestibulo-cerebellum and its role in the modulation of the VOR gain makes the cerebellar–vestibular nuclei pathway a possible model to explain the present results.
Vestibular Vestibular–ocular reflex Dance Video head impulse test
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Author contribution statement
MM, LB and FC designed and performed the experiment. MM and FC wrote the paper and LB, AD, MN helped with the edition of the manuscript. All authors discussed the results and implications and commented on the manuscript at all stages.
This research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) (Grant no. MFE194264) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) (Grant no. RGPIN-2016-05211).
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