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Volume 18, Number 2-3

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Orientation of Listing's plane after hypergravity in humans
Full Text Featured Article (330 KB)
pp. 97 - 105
Suzanne A.E. Nooij, Jelte E. Bos, Eric L. Groen

Adaptation to a novel gravitational state involves adaptation of vestibular mediated responses, in particular those mediated by the otolith organs. The present paper investigates whether the orientation of Listing's plane, which is under control of otolith signals, is affected by sustained exposure to hypergravity. Subjects were exposed to four G-loads differing in duration (45 or 90 min) and magnitude (2 or 3G). During centrifugation subjects were in a supine position, directing the gravito-inertial acceleration along the naso-occipetal axis. We determined the orientation of Listing's plane before and after each centrifuge run, with the head erect and tilted in pitch. Head tilt in pitch induced a counter-pitch of Listing's plane, which was found to be less pronounced after centrifugation. In addition, exposure to 3G for 90~min induced a small backward tilt of Listing's plane compared to the pretest orientation (head erect). In order to explain these results a hypothesis is discussed, proposing that the orientation of Listing's plane in the head is governed by a head fixed orientation vector that is modulated by the direction of gravity relative to the head. Sustained centrifugation is proposed to decrease this gravitational modulation, leading to the effects observed. This could reflect a shift towards a more body centered frame of reference.

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