The ocular vestibular-evoked myogenic potential to air-conducted sound; probable superior vestibular nerve origin

Ian S Curthoys, Shinichi Iwasaki, Yasuhiro Chihara, Munetaka Ushio, Leigh A McGarvie, Ann M Burgess
Clinical Neurophysiology: Official Journal of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology 2011, 122 (3): 611-616

OBJECTIVE: Intense air-conducted sound (ACS) elicits an ocular vestibular-evoked myogenic potential (oVEMP), and it has been suggested that it does so by stimulating saccular receptors and afferents in the inferior vestibular nerve and so activating a crossed sacculo-ocular pathway. Bone conducted vibration (BCV) also elicits an oVEMP probably by activating utricular receptors and a crossed utriculo-ocular pathway. Are there two separate pathways mediating oVEMPs for ACS and BCV? If saccular receptors and afferents are primarily responsible for the oVEMP to ACS, then the oVEMP to ACS should be normal in patients with reduced or absent utricular function--unilateral superior vestibular neuritis (SVN). If utricular receptors and afferents are primarily responsible for oVEMP n10, then oVEMP to ACS should be reduced or absent in SVN patients, and in these patients there should be a close relationship between the size of the oVEMP n10 to BCV and to ACS.

METHODS: The n10 component of the oVEMP to 500 Hz BCV and to 500 Hz ACS was recorded in 10 patients with unilateral SVN but who had saccular and inferior vestibular nerve function preserved, as shown by their normal cVEMP responses to ACS.

RESULTS: In SVN patients with normal saccular and inferior vestibular nerve function, the oVEMP n10 in response to ACS was reduced or absent. Across SVN patients there was a very close correspondence between the size of oVEMP n10 for ACS and for BCV.

CONCLUSIONS: The n10 component of the oVEMP to ACS is probably mediated predominantly by the superior vestibular nerve and so most likely by utricular receptors and afferents.

SIGNIFICANCE: The n10 component of the oVEMP to either ACS or BCV probably indicates mainly superior vestibular nerve function.

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