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Aging is associated with peripheral and central declines in vestibular processing and postural control. Here we used functional MRI to investigate age differences in neural vestibular representations in response to pneumatic tap stimulation. We also measured the amount of body sway in multiple balance tasks outside of the MRI scanner to assess the relationship between individuals' balance ability and their vestibular neural response. We found a general pattern of activation in canonical vestibular cortex and deactivation in cross modal sensory regions in response to vestibular stimulation. We found that activation amplitude of the vestibular cortex was correlated with age, with younger individuals exhibiting higher activation. Deactivation of visual and somatosensory regions increased with age and was associated with poorer balance. The results demonstrate that brain activations and deactivations in response to vestibular stimuli are correlated with balance, and the pattern of these correlations varies with age. The findings also suggest that older adults exhibit less sensitivity to vestibular stimuli, and may compensate by differentially reweighting visual and somatosensory processes.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: PloS one
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The recorded electrical responses from nerve, muscle, SENSORY RECEPTOR, or area of the CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM following stimulation. They range from less than a microvolt to several microvolts. The evoked potential can be auditory (EVOKED POTENTIALS, AUDITORY), somatosensory (EVOKED POTENTIALS, SOMATOSENSORY), visual (EVOKED POTENTIALS, VISUAL), or motor (EVOKED POTENTIALS, MOTOR), or other modalities that have been reported. Often used synonymously to event-related potentials which are associated with higher level cognitive processes.
The electric response evoked in the cerebral cortex by visual stimulation or stimulation of the visual pathways.
The vestibular part of the 8th cranial nerve (VESTIBULOCOCHLEAR NERVE). The vestibular nerve fibers arise from neurons of Scarpa's ganglion and project peripherally to vestibular hair cells and centrally to the VESTIBULAR NUCLEI of the BRAIN STEM. These fibers mediate the sense of balance and head position.
Vestibular nucleus lying immediately superior to the inferior vestibular nucleus and composed of large multipolar nerve cells. Its upper end becomes continuous with the superior vestibular nucleus. (From Dorland, 28th ed)
The electric response evoked in the CEREBRAL CORTEX by stimulation along AFFERENT PATHWAYS from PERIPHERAL NERVES to CEREBRUM.
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