Effects of Neck Muscle Vibration and Caloric Vestibular Stimulation on the Perception of Subjective ‘Straight Ahead’ in Man

  • M. Fetter
  • H.-O. Karnath


For accurate motor behavior, like grasping or fixating a target, the correct perception of the target’s spatial location relative to the body is essential. That is, the spatial location of a target has to be transformed into an egocentric, body-centered coordinate system. In recent years, strong evidence has been found that for this purpose the brain uses abstract, neural representations of space interposed between sensory input and motor output (Andersen et al., 1993). These representations seem to be organized in non-retinal, egocentric coordinates. Several authors (Ventre et al., 1984; Biguer et al., 1988; Karnath et al., 1991; Karnath et al., 1993) have shown that the perception of ‘straight ahead’body orientation appears to be very closely connected with the neural generation of the reference frames that underlie the subject’s mental representation of space. The processes behind this generation of a neural representation of egocentric spatial information is relatively complex. Several coordinate transformations are necessary. For example, when reaching or grasping for a stationary object, the positions of the eyes and head may vary from moment to moment although the relevant spatial location of the target with respect to the body may not change. If the visual target location was coded in retinal coordinates only, then each time the eyes moved, the coded location would change as well. For a quick and accurate response, the retinotopic coordinates of the target must be transformed into a coordinate system based on a non-retinal, body-centered frame of reference. To locate the direction of gaze in space and to relate this information to the orientation of the body, the input from the retina has to be combined with eye-position signals as well as head-position information. Therefore, it can be expected that the perception of ‘straight ahead’ is influenced by different external information sources.


Neck Muscle Body Orientation Vestibular Stimulation Caloric Stimulation Caloric Vestibular Stimulation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andersen, A.A., Snyder, L.H., Li, C.-S., Stricanne, B., 1993, Coordinate transformation in the representation of spatial information, Curr. Opin. Neurobiol. 3:171–176.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Biguer, B., Donaldson, I.M.L., Hein, A., Jeannerod, M., 1988, Neck muscle vibration modifies the representation of visual motion and direction in man, Brain 111:1405–1424.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brecher, G.A., Brecher, M.H., Kommerell, G., Sauter, F.A., Sellerbeck, J., 1972, Relation of optical and labyrinthean orientation, Opt Acta 19:467–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cappa, S., Sterzi, R., Vallar, G., Bisiach, E., 1987, Remission of hemineglect and anosognosia during vestibular stimulation, Neuropsychologia 25:775–782.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dichgans, J., Brandt, T., 1978, Visual-vestibular interaction: effects on self-motion perception and postural control. In: Held, R., Leibowitz, H.W., Teuber, H.-L. (eds.) Handbook of Sensory Physiology, Vol. VIII. Perception. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, pp. 755–804.Google Scholar
  6. Fischer, M.H., Kornmüller, A.E., 1931, Egozentrische Lokalisation. 2. Mitteilung (optische Richtungslosigkeit beim vestibulären Nystagmus), J Psychol Neurol 41:383–420.Google Scholar
  7. Graybiel, A., Hupp, D.I., 1946, The oculo-gyral illusion, a form of apparent motion which may be observed following stimulation of the semicircular canals, J Aviat Med 17:3–27.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Hamann, K.F., Strauss, K., Kellner, M., Weiss, U., 1992, Dependence of visual straight ahead on vestibular influences. In: Krejcova, H., Jerabek, J. (eds.) Proceedings of the XVIIth Bárány Society Meeting, pp 65–66.Google Scholar
  9. Hoist, E. von, Mittelstaedt, H., 1950, Das Reafferenzprinzip (Wechselwirkungen zwischen Zentralnervensystem and Peripherie), Naturwissenschaften 37:464–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Karnath, H.-O., Schenkel, P., Fischer, B., 1991, Trunk orientation as the determining factor of the ‘contralateral’ deficit in the neglect syndrome and as the physical anchor of the internal representation of body orientation in space, Brain 114:1997–2014.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Karnath, H.-O., Christ, K., Hartje, W., 1993, Decrease of contralateral neglect by neck muscle vibration and spatial orientation of trunk midline, Brain 116:383–396.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Lackner, J.R., Levine, M.S., 1979, Changes in apparent body orientation and sensory localization induced by vibration of postural muscles: vibratory myesthetic illusions, Aviat Space Environ Med 50:346–354.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Mergner, T., Rottler, G., Kimmig, H., Becker, W., 1992, Role of vestibular and neck inputs for the perception of object motion in space, Exp Brain Res 89:655–668.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Morant, R.B., 1959, The visual perception of median plane as influenced by labyrinthian stimulation, J Psychol 47:25–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Roberts, T.D.M., 1973, Reflex balance, Nature 244:156–158.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ventre, J., Flandrin, J.M., Jeannerod, M., 1984, In search for the egocentric reference. A neurophysiological hypothesis, Neuropsychologia 22:797–806.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Fetter
    • 1
  • H.-O. Karnath
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NeurologyTübingenGermany

Personalised recommendations