Q1 Vestibular/Balance News & Research Roundup


Looking for the latest news and research from the vestibular/balance world? Look no further! Here at e3, we’ve decided to pull some of the most interesting studies and stories focused on dizziness and balance, and aggregate them in one place. So without further ado, here are some of the most intriguing vestibular news stories and research studies from Q1:

Neuroscientists identify brain circuit that integrates head motion with visual signals – March 15, 2018

Full article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180315130656.htm

Neuroscientists at the Sanisbury Wellcome Centre in London have identified a circuit in the primary visual cortex that integrates head- and visual-motion signals. The research team identified a site in the primary visual cortex where vestibular signals and visual signs converge. Then the team went on to determine that the vestibular signals come from the retrosplenial cortex, an area of the brain thought to encode information critical for spatial navigation.

At first, the researchers used state-of-the-art Neuropixels probes to record from the brains of mice that were passively rotated. Initial recordings were carried out in darkness to ensure there was no visual input. Using intracellular recordings, the second part of the study focused on which aspects of head motion might be encoded in such activity. The final part of the study focused on a potential source of head motion signals. Ultimately, the researchers concluded that V1 L6 cells might serve as a locus for context-dependent modulation of sensory signaling in the cortex.

Balance exercises may help people with multiple sclerosis – February 2

Full article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180202112725.htm

A study involving 88 people with multiple sclerosis has revealed that balance exercise may help alleviate symptoms of the disease. The participants, who were able to walk 100 meters with no more assistance than using a cane or other device on one side of their body, completed assessments of their balance, fatigue, and dizziness. Then, half of the group completed six weeks of supervised exercises twice a week. For eight weeks after that, they participated in one supervised exercise session each week. They were also given instructions for exercises they could do on their own at home.

As a control group, the rest of the participants were told they were on a waiting list for the program. All of the participants were tested after the first six weeks, and then tested again at the end of the study. The results showed that after six weeks, the people who had completed the exercise program had improved balance in comparison to the control group. Balance assessment scores of these individuals went from an average of 63 at the start of the program to an average of 73. Further studies are needed to determine if these improvements can be sustained.

Scientists identify brain region in mice that keeps the body from losing its balance – January 30, 2018

Full article: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-01-scientists-brain-region-mice-body.html

New scientific research from Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute has uncovered that a small part of the brain steadies the body when thrown off balance. The study was conducted on mice and found that a brain region called the lateral vestibular nucleus (LVN) steadies the body by moving muscles in a two-step, kneejerk response that first widens the center of gravity, and then strengthens and stabilizes muscles and joints.

To confirm LVN was responsible for maintaining balance, the researchers silenced it. When the mice walk on stable ground, they were fine. However, when the scientists nudged the beam the mice walked on, they could not steady themselves or regain balance. Moving forward, the researchers will delve deeper into the brain science of balance, including more research on how LVN reacts when walking on unsteady surfaces.

A common garden plant is giving people vertigo – January 19, 2018

Full article: https://www.livescience.com/61478-yucca-ear-injuries.html

Yucca plants may seem harmless, but according to a recent report from Australia, the spiny leaves of the plant can cause serious ear injuries that affect balance. From 2012 to 2017, 28 yucca-related injuries were reported and treated at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Australia. In four of the cases, the leaves speared both the eardrum and the inner ear, producing a perilymphatic fistula.

This condition occurs when the membranes that divide the air-filled mille ear from the fluid-filled space of the inner ear are torn, allowing perilymph fluid to leak into the middle ear. As a result, each of the four patients experienced hearing loss and vertigo. Although they all had surgeries to fix the tears, they never made a full recovery and still suffer minor symptoms.