To elucidate cortical correlates of vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) modulation, we observed cortical activation during fixation suppression and habituation of caloric vestibular nystagmus in 12 normal subjects, using PET. Significant positive correlation between regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) and slow phase eye velocity of caloric nystagmus was observed in the middle and posterior insula, inferior parietal lobule, temporal pole, right fusiform gyrus, lingual gyrus, and cerebellar vermis and hemisphere. The rCBF increase in the insular region and the inferior parietal lobule was lateralized depending on the direction of the nystagmus. Caloric nystagmus was suppressed as a result of visual fixation, during which time the area around the right frontal eye field, temporal pole, inferior temporal gyrus, a broad area in the visual cortex, including fusiform and lingual gyrus, cerebellar uvula/nodulus and flocculus, exhibited positive correlation with fixation suppression of caloric nystagmus, while vestibular cortices exhibited negative correlation. The caloric nystagmus habituated with repetition of stimulation. With habituation, we observed activation in the right anterior cingulate gyrus, left superior parietal lobule and right cuneus, and deactivation in the anterior insula, cingulate gyrus, inferior parietal lobule and occipito-temporal visual cortex. The region that showed significant co-activation with fixation suppression and habituation of caloric nystagmus was the right cuneus, and significant co-deactivation was observed in the anterior insula, cingulate gyrus, inferior parietal lobule and middle temporal visual cortex. The present results support previous observations that the parieto-insular cortex and inferior parietal lobule are involved in processing of vestibular information, and, in addition, suggest that activation may depend on the direction of nystagmus. Deactivation of vestibular cortices during visual fixation supports the concept of inhibitory visual - vestibular interaction in the cortex. Significant activation of the cingulate, superior parietal and visual cortices, and cerebellar vermis accompanying reduction of caloric response with repeated stimuli suggests possible involvement of these regions in vestibular habituation. Common activation of the cuneus in visual cortex and deactivation of vestibular and visuo-spatial association cortices by both visual suppression and habituation of VOR suggests that these two mechanisms are not completely independent but may share some cortical and subcortical regions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology