Visual-vestibular interaction and cerebellar atrophy

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Article abstract

The vestibular and optokinetic ocular control systems were studied in 10 patients with cerebellar atrophy and in 10 normal subjects using (1) constant velocity optokinetic stimulation, (2) sinusoidal rotation in the dark, and (3) sinusoidal rotation in the light with a surrounding fixed optokinetic drum. The gain (maximum slow component velocity/maximum head or drum velocity) of induced nystagmus was calculated from electro-oculographic recordings. Optokinetic nystagmus was abnormal in seven patients and the average optokinetic gain in the patients was significantly (p < 0.01) less than that of the normal group. Three patients with “clinically pure” cerebellar atrophy had increased vestibular responses, and one patient with clinical signs of peripheral neuropathy had decreased responses, probably due to associated vestibular nerve disease. The average vestibulo-ocular reflex gain in patients did not differ significantly from controls (p > 0.05). Three patients had normal vestibular and optokinetic responses when tested independently, but had abnormal visual-vestibular interaction. These patients probably had selective disorders of the midline cerebellar pathways that mediate visual-vestibular interaction. By studying each system, both independently and during interaction, all patients were identified as abnormal, and a more precise anatomic localization of the atrophy was obtained.

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