Archives of oto-rhino-laryngology

, Volume 244, Issue 3, pp 147–154 | Cite as

Effect of spaceflight on thresholds of perception of angular and linear motion

  • A. J. Benson
The Vestibular System in Weightlessness

Summary

Psychophysical studies of vestibular function have been carried out in order to study adaptation within the vestibular sensory system to the weightless environment of orbital spaceflight. No significant change in the threshold of detection of whole-body angular acceleration was found, either during flight or post-flight. Experiments involving the perception of whole-body linear acceleration have yielded somewhat inconsistent results, although the weight of evidence points to an elevation and increased variability of threshold in the first few days following spaceflight. Although a change in the excitability of the saccular and macular otoliths in microgravity cannot be excluded, it is more probable that this decreased sensitivity is a manifestation of a central adaptive mechanism, in which the “weighting” of gravi-receptor information is reduced. Enhancement of the ability to detect linear acceleration stimuli, exhibited by some astronauts in microgravity, may be a manifestation of heightened utilization of cutaneous rather than otolithic cues.

Key words

Sensory threshold Semicircular canals Otoliths Adaptation Weightlessness 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Arrott AP, Young LR (1986) M.I.T./Canadian vestibular experiments on the Spacelab-1 mission. 6. Vestibular reactions to lateral acceleration following ten days of weightlessness. Exp Brain Res 64:347–357Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Baumgarten RJ von, Vogel H (1976) Definition des Anteils des Statolithenorgans bei der Entwicklung der Raumkrankheit und die Anwendung bei Auswahl und Training von Nutzlastexperten. Publ no. 01 QV 046-AA22-SLN 7751-A2a, DFVLR: Köln/PorzGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Benson AJ (1977) Possible mechanisms of motion and space sickness. In: Life-sciences research in space, 101–108. Report SP-130. European Space Agency, ParisGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Benson AJ, Vieville T (1986) European vestibular experiments on the Spacelab-1 mission. 6. Yaw axis vestibuloocular reflex. Exp Brain Res 64:279–283Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Benson AJ, Wetzig J (1987) Thresholds for the detection of the direction of whole-body linear movement: modification by D-1 space-flight. In: Proceedings of the D-1 Results Symposium. DFVLR Report (in press)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Benson AJ, Kass JR, Vogel H (1986) European vestibular experiments on the Spacelab-1 mission. 4. Thresholds of perception of whole-body linear oscillation: modification by space-flight. Exp Brain Res 64:264–271Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Benson AJ, Spencer MB, Stott JRR (1986) Thresholds for the detection of the direction of whole-body linear movement in the horizontal plane. Aviat Space Environ Med 57:1088–1096Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Berthoz A, Brandt T, Dichgans J, Probst T, Bruzek W, Vieville T (1986) European vestibular experiments on the spacelab-1 mission. 5. Contribution of the otoliths to the vertical vestibulo-ocular reflex. Exp Brain Res 64:272–278Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Clement G, Vieville T, Lestienne F, Berthoz A (1985) Preliminary results of the ‘Equilibrium and Vertigo’ experiments performed during STS 51G Shuttle flight. In: Proceedings of 2nd International Conference on Space Physiology, 129–135. Report SP-237. European Space Agency, ParisGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Graybiel A, Miller EF, Homick JL (1977) Experiment M131. Human vestibular function. 2. Threshold for perception of angular accelaration as revealed by the oculogyral illusion (preliminary results). In: Johnston RS, Dietlein LF (eds) Biomedical results from Skylab. SP 377: 91–100. NASA, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Meiry JL (1965) The vestibular system and human dynamic space orientation. Report T-65-1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MassachusettsGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Melvill Jones G (1974) Adaptive neurobiology in spaceflight. In: Proceedings on the Skylab Life-Sciences Symposium, 2, 847–859. Report TM X-58154. NASA: Houston, TexasGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Melvill Jones G, Young LR (1977) Subjective detection of vertical acceleration: a velocity-dependent response. Acta Otolaryngol (Stockh) 85:45–53Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Money KE, Bonen L, Kuehn LA, Sokoloff M, Weaver RS (1971) Physical properties of fluids and structures of vestibular apparatus of the pigeon. Am J Physiol 220:140–147Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Parker DE, Reschke MF, Arrott AP, Homick JL, Lichtenberg BK (1985) Otolith tilt-translation re-interpretation following prolonged weightlessness: implications for preflight training. Aviat Space Environ Med 56:601–606Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Parker DE, Reschke MF, Arrott AP, Homick JL, Lichtenberg BK (1985) Thresholds for detection of linear oscillation following prolonged weightlessness. In: Results of space experiments in physiology and medicine. Conference Proceedings No. 377: 1B, 11-14. AGARD/NATO, Neuilly sur SeineGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Roman JA, Warren BH, Graybiel A (1963) The function of the semi-circular canals during weightlessness. Aerosp Med 34:1085–1089Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Steinz JA (1980) The Sled programme. ESA Bull 22:59–66Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Vogel H, Kass JR (1986) European vestibular experiments on the Spacelab-1 mission. 7. Ocular counter-rolling measurements pre- and post-flight. Exp Brain Res 64:284–290Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Walsh EG (1961) Role of the vestibular apparatus in the perception of motion on a parallel swing. J Physiol 155:506–513Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Young LR, Oman CM, Watt DG, Money KE, Lichtenberg BK, Kenyon RV, Arrott AP (1986) M.I.T./Canadian vestibular experiments on the Spacelab-1 mission. 1. Sensory adaptation to weightlessness and readaptation to oneg: an overview. Exp Brain Res 64:291–298Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Young LR, Shelhamer M, Modestino S (1986) M.I.T./Canadian vestibular experiments in the Spacelab-1 mission. 2. Visual vestibular tilt interaction in weightlessness. Exp Brain Res 64:299–307Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Arrott AP, Young LR, Merfeld DM, Lichtenberg BK (1987) Vestibular responses to linear acceleration in weightlessness. In: Proceedings of the D-1 Results Symposium. DFVLR Rep (in press)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. J. Benson
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal Air Force Institute of Aviation MedicineFarnboroughUK

Personalised recommendations