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Visual-Vestibular Integration (DSO 604)
Research Area:
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

The nervous system integrates visual information and information about gravity and body movements to create perceptions of the self in relation to the surrounding world. The information coming from some receptors, such as the otolith gravireceptors in the inner ear, will be quite different in microgravity, and will change again upon return to gravity. Misinterpretation of the altered stimuli can cause motion sickness and perceptual disturbances during or after spaceflight. The objectives of this study were: 1) to study the motion sickness symptoms and illusions of motion that are produced by head movements during and just after spaceflight, and whether they are attenuated by visual or tactile cues; 2) to evaluate preflight-to-postflight changes in motion perception; 3) to investigate the transition from visual spatial orientation to internal spatial orientation during adaptation to microgravity; and 4) to investigate the integrated coordination of head and eye movements within a structured environment where perception could modify responses and where response could be compensatory for perception.

A full understanding of this coordination required definition of spatial orientation models for the microgravity environment encountered during space flight. The central nervous system (CNS) must develop, maintain, and modify as needed, neural models that may represent three-dimensional Cartesian coordinates for both the self (intrinsic) and the environment (extrinsic). Extrinsic coordinate neural models derive from the observer’s ability to detect up/down vector signals produced by gravity (g) and visual scene and polarity (VS). Horizontal coordinates are incompletely specified by the up/down vector. Additional complexity is introduced because extrinsic coordinate models derive from multimodal processes. For example, detection of gravity is mediated by graviceptors at several locations in the body, including the vestibular apparatus (Gves), somatic receptors (Gs), and visceral receptors (Gvic).

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Gilles, C. and Reschke, M.F. Neuroscience in Space. New York: Springer Science+Business Media, LLC; 2008.

Harm DL, Zografos LM, Skinner NC, and Parker DE. Changes in compensatory eye movements associated with simulated stimulus conditions of spaceflight. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. 1993 Sep; 64(9 Pt 1):820-6. []

Harm DL, and Parker DE. Perceived self-orientation and self-motion in microgravity, after landing and during preflight adaptation training. Journal of Vestibular Research: Equilibrium and Orientation. 1993 Fall;3(3):297-305. []

Harm DL, and Parker DE. Preflight adaptation training for spatial orientation and space motion sickness. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 1994 Jun;34(6):618-27. []

Harm DL, Parker DE, Reschke MF, and Skinner NC. Relationship between selected orientation rest frame, circular vection and space motion sickness. Brain Research Bulletin. 1998 Nov 15; 47(5):497-501. []

Harm DL, Reschke MF, and Parker DE. Visual-Vestibular Integration Motion Perception Reporting. In: Sawin CF, Taylor GR, Smith WL, editors. Extended Duration Orbiter Medical Project final report 1989-1995. Houston: NASA Johnson Space Center, 1999.

Huebner WP, Paloski WH, Reschke MF, and Bloomberg JJ. Geometric adjustments to account for eye eccentricity in processing horizontal and vertical eye and head movement data. Journal of Vestibular Research: Equilibrium and Orientation. 1995 Jul-Aug; 5(4):299-322. []

Parker DE, and Harm DL. Mental rotation: a key to mitigation of motion sickness in the virtual environment? Presence. 1992 Summer; 1(3):329-33. []

Reschke MF, Neuroscience Investigations An Overview of Studies Conducted. In: Sawin CF, Taylor GR, Smith WL, editors. Extended Duration Orbiter Medical Project final report 1989-1995. Houston: NASA Johnson Space Center, 1999.

Reschke MF, Bloomberg JJ, Harm DL, and Paloski WH. Space flight and neurovestibular adaptation. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 1994 Jun;34(6):609-17. []

Reschke MF, Bloomberg JJ, Harm DL, and Paloski WH. Chapter 13, Neurophysological aspects: sensory and sensory-motor function. In AE Nicogossian (Ed.), Space Physiology and Medicine, 3rd Ed., Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1994.

Reschke MF, Bloomberg JL, Harm DL, Huebner WP, Kmavek JM, Paloski WH, and Berthoz, A. Visual-Vestibular Integration as a Function of Adaptation to Space Flight and Return to Earth. In: Sawin CF, Taylor GR, Smith WL, editors. Extended Duration Orbiter Medical Project final report 1989-1995. Houston: NASA Johnson Space Center, 1999.

Reschke MF, Harm DL, Bloomberg JJ, and Paloski WH. Chapter 7, Neurosensory and sensory-motor function. In AM Genin and CL Huntoon (Eds.) Space Biology and Medicine, Vol. 3: Humans in Spaceflight, Book 1: Effects of Microgravity. Washington, DC: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), 1997; 135-194.

Reschke MF, Harm DL, Parker DE, Sandoz GR, Homick JL, and Vanderploeg JM. Chapter 12, Neurophysiological aspects: space motion sickness. In AE Nicogossian (Ed.), Space Physiology and Medicine, 3rd Ed., Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1994.

Reschke, MF, . Kornilova LN, Harm DL, Bloomberg JL, and Paloski WH. Neurosensory and Sensory-Motor Function. In: Nicogossian, AE, Mohler SR, Gazenko OG, and Grigoriev AI, editors. Space Biology and Medicine. NASA Russian Academy of Sciences. Volume III, Book 1 Humans in Spaceflight.

Wood SJ, Paloski WH, and Reschke MF. Spatial coding of eye movements relative to perceived earth and head orientations during static roll tilt. Experimental Brain Research. 1998 Jul; 121(1):51-8. []

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Data Information
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Apparent target position
Body movements
Eye movements
Eye position
Eye velocity
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
STS-39 04/28/1991 05/06/1991 8 days
STS-41 10/06/1990 10/10/1990 4 days
STS-43 08/02/1991 08/11/1991 9 days
STS-44 11/24/1991 12/01/1991 7 days
STS-45 03/24/1992 04/02/1992 9 days
STS-46 07/31/1992 08/08/1992 8 days
STS-48 09/12/1991 09/18/1991 5 days
STS-49 05/07/1992 05/16/1992 9 days
STS-51 09/12/1993 09/22/1993 10 days
STS-52 10/22/1992 11/01/1992 10 days
STS-53 12/02/1992 12/09/1992 7 days
STS-54 01/13/1993 01/19/1993 6 days
STS-57 06/21/1993 07/01/1993 10 days
STS-58 10/18/1993 11/01/1993 14 days
STS-59 04/09/1994 04/20/1994 11 days
STS-61 12/02/1993 12/13/1993 11 days
STS-62 03/04/1994 03/18/1994 14 days
STS-64 09/09/1994 09/20/1994 11 days
STS-65 07/08/1994 07/23/1994 15 days
STS-66 11/03/1994 11/14/1994 11 days
STS-67 03/02/1995 03/18/1995 17 days
STS-68 09/30/1994 10/11/1994 11 days
STS-69 09/07/1995 09/18/1995 11 days
STS-70 07/13/1995 07/22/1995 9 days
STS-72 01/11/1996 01/20/1996 9 days
STS-73 10/20/1995 11/05/1995 16 days
STS-74 11/12/1995 11/20/1995 8 days

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Jessica Keune
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
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