Vestibular evoked myogenic potentials evoked by brief interaural head acceleration: Properties and possible origin

Sally M. Rosengren, Neil P M Todd, James G. Colebatch

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The vestibular system responds to head acceleration by producing compensatory reflexes in the eyes and postural muscles. In this study, we investigated the effect of brief interaural acceleration on the vestibular evoked myogenic potential (VEMP) in 10 normal subjects and 10 patients with bilateral (bVL) or unilateral vestibular loss (uVL). The stimuli were delivered with a handheld minishaker and tendon hammer over the mastoid and produced relatively pure interaural head acceleration with little rotation (mean peak acceleration: 0.14 g at 3.3 ms). VEMPs were recorded from the neck muscles and were characterized in normal subjects by a positive/negative potential ipsilateral to the stimulated side (peak latencies: 15.1 and 22.6 ms) and a positive response contralaterally (20.3 ms), which was sometimes preceded by a negativity (14.5 ms). These peaks were absent in patients with bVL, confirming their vestibular dependence. In the patients with uVL, medial acceleration of the intact ear produced bilateral responses, an initial positivity on the intact side, and a negativity on the affected side, whereas lateral acceleration produced only a late positivity on the intact side. As the acceleration was primarily in the horizontal plane, it is likely to have activated utricular receptors. Consistent with this, we found that VEMPs are very sensitive to the direction of head acceleration and have features consistent with the utriculocollic projections demonstrated in animals. Copyright © 2009 the American Physiological Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)841-852
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


    • Jerk
    • Otolith
    • Translation
    • Utricle


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