Allan Hansen

Positron emission tomography visualized stimulation of the vestibular organ is localized in Heschl's gyrus

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The existence of a human primary vestibular cortex is still debated. Current knowledge mainly derives from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) acquisitions during artificial vestibular stimulation. This may be problematic as artificial vestibular stimulation entails coactivation of other sensory receptors. The use of fMRI is challenging as the strong magnetic field and loud noise during MRI may both stimulate the vestibular organ. This study aimed to characterize the cortical activity during natural stimulation of the human vestibular organ. Two fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)-PET scans were obtained after natural vestibular stimulation in a self-propelled chair. Two types of stimuli were applied: (a) rotation (horizontal semicircular canal) and (b) linear sideways movement (utriculus). A comparable baseline FDG-PET scan was obtained after sitting motion-less in the chair. In both stimulation paradigms, significantly increased FDG uptake was measured bilaterally in the medial part of Heschl's gyrus, with some overlap into the posterior insula. This is the first neuroimaging study to visualize cortical processing of natural vestibular stimuli. FDG uptake was demonstrated in the medial-most part of Heschl's gyrus, normally associated with the primary auditory cortex. This anatomical localization seems plausible, considering that the labyrinth contains both the vestibular organ and the cochlea.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Pages (from-to)185-193
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The Authors. Human Brain Mapping published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

    Research areas

  • central nervous system, functional neuroimaging, labyrinth, neurotology, positron-emission-tomography, vertigo, vestibule

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