VOR Suppression in Non-Gymnast Adults

2017-07-25 12:38:21 | BioPortfolio


The researchers hypothesize that there is a correlation between Vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) performance and innate athletic skill level. A similar study was conducted in female, young adult gymnasts where a correlation was shown between VOR performance and gymnastic skill level. However, the results from this study did not suggest that VOR differences develop as a result of practice; rather that the differences in VOR may simply allow some individuals to become better performers. In this study the researchers would like to extend the population to adults both with and without a background in gymnastics to determine the natural relationship between VOR and innate athletic potential.


Sports like gymnastics, diving, and ice skating often involve rotational elements with high angular velocities. Many of these are airborne skills and have a significant element of risk. The athletes who perform these skills have to rely on sensory information from the visual and vestibular systems. It has been suggested that the vestibular system adapts to these types of inputs and the athlete no longer experiences dizziness associated with multiple rotations.

A recent Neuroscience abstract described a small study of the directional selectivity of vestibular habituation adult professional figure skaters. The results showed that figure skaters demonstrated a profound reduction in the magnitude of post-rotary nystagmus and caloric test response in their preferred direction of rotation. It was suggested that this sensitivity was a result of "habituation." The authors implied that the skaters learned to suppress vestibular receptors on the side that they turned toward. This deduction is based on patients that develop pathology on one side and learn to suppress the sensation on that side. However, we do not currently know if the developing vestibular system works the same way or if this is an inherited trait. Most of these athletes started as children, when their vestibular system was still developing, and may have a more fine-tuned vestibular system and be able to suppress certain reflexes. On the other hand, it could be that some people are born with the ability to suppress this sensation, thus allowing them to become elite athletes. Currently there isn't a defined relationship between a person's athleticism or athletic upbringing and their vestibular system performance.

A major component of vestibular performance is the Vestibular Ocular Reflex (VOR). The VOR is responsible for stabilizing the visual field on the retina during head movement. To accomplish this, the eyes are reflexively moved in a direction opposite the head. For example, in a twisting gymnast, this actually reduces the ability of gymnasts to see the landing during airborne skills. Hence, it becomes necessary for gymnasts to cancel or suppress their VOR in order to view the landing. A previous study conducted by the researchers determined that young, actively practicing gymnasts (mean age 15±2.2) had a higher ability to suppress their VOR than non-gymnasts of the same age (Hedge, 2010). This previous study determined that there is a correlation between VOR performance and gymnastic skill level. However, these results do not suggest that the VOR differences develop as a result of practice.

This study aims to establish a relationship between VOR performance and athleticism. By comparing ex-gymnast adults (ages 18-30), and their age-matched, non-gymnast counterparts to the previous study results involving actively practicing, child gymnasts, a relationship between VOR performance and athletic skill can be determined. Furthermore, examining the VOR data collected from this study to data collected from tests aimed at determining athleticism, or a person's athletic potential, it may be possible to relate VOR performance to athletic skill; In other words, determining whether athletes are successful because their vestibular performance is superior to those whom are non-athletes, or it is a learned skill with practice.

Study Design




VOR and coordination measurements


Virginia Commonwealth University
United States




Virginia Commonwealth University

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2017-07-25T12:38:21-0400

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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

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)

Pathological processes of the VESTIBULAR LABYRINTH which contains part of the balancing apparatus. Patients with vestibular diseases show instability and are at risk of frequent falls.

Neutral or negatively charged ligands bonded to metal cations or neutral atoms. The number of ligand atoms to which the metal center is directly bonded is the metal cation's coordination number, and this number is always greater than the regular valence or oxidation number of the metal. A coordination complex can be negative, neutral, or positively charged.

The 8th cranial nerve. The vestibulocochlear nerve has a cochlear part (COCHLEAR NERVE) which is concerned with hearing and a vestibular part (VESTIBULAR NERVE) which mediates the sense of balance and head position. The fibers of the cochlear nerve originate from neurons of the SPIRAL GANGLION and project to the cochlear nuclei (COCHLEAR NUCLEUS). The fibers of the vestibular nerve arise from neurons of Scarpa's ganglion and project to the VESTIBULAR NUCLEI.

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