Dynamic visual acuity during transient and sinusoidal yaw rotation in normal and unilaterally vestibulopathic humans

J R Tian, I Shubayev, J L Demer
Experimental Brain Research. Experimentelle Hirnforschung. Expérimentation Cérébrale 2001, 137 (1): 12-25
The vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) stabilizes gaze to permit clear vision during head movements. It has been supposed that VOR function might be inferred from dynamic visual acuity (DVA), the acuity during imposed head motion. We sought to determine effectiveness of DVA for detection and lateralization of unilateral vestibulopathy, using rigorous psychophysical methods. Seventeen normal and 11 unilaterally vestibulopathic subjects underwent measurement of optically best corrected DVA during head motion. A variable size letter "E" 6 m distant was displayed in oblique random orientations to determine binocular DVA by a computer controlled, forced choice method. Three types of whole-body yaw rotation were delivered by a servo-controlled chair synchronized with optotype presentation. Two types of motion were predictable: (1) steady-state 2.0-Hz rotation at 10-130 degrees/s peak velocity with repetitive optotype presentation only during head velocity exceeding 80% of peak; and (2) directionally predictable transients at peak accelerations of 1000, 1600 and 2800 degrees/s2 with optotype presentation for 300 ms. For neither of these predictable motions did DVA in vestibulopathic subjects significantly differ from normal, with suggestions from search coil recordings that this was due to predictive slow and saccadic eye movements. Unilaterally vestibulopathic subjects experienced a significant decrease in DVA from the static condition during ipsilesional rotation for all three peak head accelerations. Only during directionally unpredictable transients with 75 ms or 300 ms optotype presentation was the sensitivity of DVA in unilaterally vestibulopathic subjects significantly abnormal during ipsilesional rotation. The ipsilesional decrease in DVA with head motion was greater for 75 ms than 300 ms optotype presentation. Search coil recordings confirmed hypometric compensatory eye movements during DVA testing with unpredictable, ipsilesional rotation. Receiver-operator characteristic analysis indicated ideal detection and lateralization of unilateral vestibulopathy by DVA tested with a 75-ms optotype exposure for unpredictable transient rotations to a peak acceleration of 2800 degrees/s. DVA can reliably detect unilateral deafferentation only if precautions are taken to prevent compensation by predictive slow eye movements and saccades.

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