J Audiol Otol.  2021 Jul;25(3):152-158. 10.7874/jao.2021.00080.

The Impact of Optical Illusions on the Vestibular System

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Audiology, Faculty of Health and Science, Istanbul Medipol University, Istanbul, Turkey

Abstract

Background and Objectives
Balance control is maintained in stationary and dynamic conditions, with coordinated muscle responses generated by somatosensory, vestibular, and visual inputs. This study aimed to investigate how the vestibular system is affected in the presence of an optical illusion to better understand the interconnected pathways of the visual and vestibular systems.
Subjects and Methods
The study involved 54 young adults (27 males and 27 females) aged 18-25 years. The recruited participants were subjected to the cervical vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (cVEMP) test and video head impulse test (vHIT). The cVEMP and vHIT tests were performed once each in the absence and presence of an optical illusion. In addition, after each test, whether the individuals felt balanced was determined using a questionnaire.
Results
cVEMP results in the presence of the optical illusion showed shortened latencies and increased amplitudes for the left side in comparison to the results in the absence of the optical illusion (p≤0.05). When vHIT results were compared, it was seen that the right lateral and bilateral anterior canal gains were increased, almost to 1.0 (p<0.05).
Conclusions
It is thought that when the visual-vestibular inputs are incompatible with each other, the sensory reweighting mechanism is activated, and this mechanism strengthens the more reliable (vestibular) inputs, while suppressing the less reliable (visual) inputs. As long as the incompatible condition persists, the sensory reweighting mechanism will continue to operate, thanks to the feedback loop from the efferent vestibular system.

Keyword

Optical illusions · Vestibular evoked myogenic potentials · Head impulse test · Vestibulo-ocular reflex · Postural balance
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