Binocular Misalignments Elicited by Altered Gravity Provide Evidence for Nonlinear Central Compensation

Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience. 2015;9 DOI 10.3389/fnsys.2015.00081


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Journal Title: Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience

ISSN: 1662-5137 (Online)

Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.

LCC Subject Category: Medicine: Internal medicine: Neurosciences. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry

Country of publisher: Switzerland

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML, ePUB, XML



Kara H. Beaton (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)
W. Cary Huffman (Loyola University)
Michael C. Schubert (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)
Michael C. Schubert (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)


Blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 14 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Increased ocular positioning misalignments upon exposure to altered gravity levels (g-levels) have been strongly correlated with space motion sickness severity, possibly due to underlying otolith asymmetries uncompensated in novel gravitational environments. We investigated vertical and torsional ocular positioning misalignments elicited by the 0g and 1.8g g-levels of parabolic flight and used these data to develop a computational model to describe how such misalignments might arise. Ocular misalignments were inferred through two perceptual nulling tasks: Vertical Alignment Nulling (VAN) and Torsional Alignment Nulling (TAN). All test subjects exhibited significant differences in ocular misalignments in the novel g-levels, which we postulate to be the result of healthy individuals with 1g-tuned central compensatory mechanisms unadapted to the parabolic flight environment. Furthermore, the magnitude and direction of ocular misalignments in hypo-g and hyper-g, in comparison to 1g, were nonlinear and nonmonotonic. Previous linear models of central compensation do not predict this. Here we show that a single model of the form a+bg^ε, where a, b, and ε are the model parameters and g is the current g-level, accounts for both the vertical and torsional ocular misalignment data observed inflight. Furthering our understanding of oculomotor control is critical for the development of interventions that promote adaptation in spaceflight (e.g., countermeasures for novel g-level exposure) and terrestrial (e.g., rehabilitation protocols for vestibular pathology) environments.