Head-shaking nystagmus in patients with unilateral peripheral vestibular lesions

T C Hain, M Fetter, D S Zee
American Journal of Otolaryngology 1987, 8 (1): 36-47
In certain patients with peripheral or central vestibular lesions, a transient nystagmus appears after shaking the head rapidly for 10 to 20 cycles. We recorded such a "head-shaking nystagmus" using the scleral eye coil in six subjects with unilateral peripheral vestibular lesions. Horizontal head shaking elicited horizontal nystagmus with slow phases that were initially directed toward the side of the lesion and upward. All subjects showed a prolonged, lower-amplitude reversal phase after the initial response following horizontal head shaking. The main features of these results can be explained by an analytic model that incorporates a central velocity-storage mechanism that perseverates vestibular inputs, Ewald's second law, and adaptation of primary vestibular afferent activity.

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