Responses evoked by a vestibular implant providing chronic stimulation

Jenks Vestibular Physiology Laboratory, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, MA, USA.
Journal of Vestibular Research (Impact Factor: 1.19). 06/2012; 22(1):11-5. DOI: 10.3233/VES-2012-0442
Source: PubMed


Patients with bilateral vestibular loss experience dehabilitating visual, perceptual, and postural difficulties, and an implantable vestibular prosthesis that could improve these symptoms would be of great benefit to these patients. In previous work, we have shown that a one-dimensional, unilateral canal prosthesis can improve the vestibulooccular reflex (VOR) in canal-plugged squirrel monkeys. In addition to the VOR, the potential effects of a vestibular prosthesis on more complex, highly integrative behaviors, such as the perception of head orientation and posture have remained unclear. We tested a one-dimensional, unilateral prosthesis in a rhesus monkey with bilateral vestibular loss and found that chronic electrical stimulation partially restored the compensatory VOR and also that percepts of head orientation relative to gravity were improved. However, the one-dimensional prosthetic stimulation had no clear effect on postural stability during quiet stance, but sway evoked by head-turns was modestly reduced. These results suggest that not only can the implementation of a vestibular prosthesis provide partial restitution of VOR but may also improve perception and posture in the presence of bilateral vestibular hypofunction (BVH). In this review, we provide an overview of our previous and current work directed towards the eventual clinical implementation of an implantable vestibular prosthesis.

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    • "The studies have described the efficacy of these devices in driving vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) mediated eye movements with electrical stimulation in a range of species, including humans. Stimulation from such a neurostimulator produces robust vestibular nystagmus in association with electrical stimulation trains of brief biphasic pulses, which is comparable to eye movements produced naturally through the VOR (Thompson et al., 2012; Phillips et al., 2011; Davidovics et al., 2013). In addition to VOR, electrical stimulation has been shown to drive other modalities of the vestibular system, including producing postural and head movements (Mitchell et al., 2013; Phillips et al., 2013) and perceptual responses (Lewis et al., 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: Loss of vestibular function may be treatable with an implantable vestibular prosthesis that stimulates semicircular canal afferents with biphasic pulse trains. Several studies have demonstrated short-term activation of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) with electrical stimulation. Fewer long-term studies have been restricted to small numbers of animals and stimulation designed to produce adaptive changes in the electrically elicited response. This study is the first large consecutive series of implanted rhesus macaque to be studied longitudinally using brief stimuli designed to limit adaptive changes in response, so that the efficacy of electrical activation can be studied over time, across surgeries, canals and animals. The implantation of a vestibular prosthesis in animals with intact vestibular end organs produces variable responses to electrical stimulation across canals and animals, which change in threshold for electrical activation of eye movements and in elicited slow phase velocities over time. These thresholds are consistently lower, and the slow phase velocities higher, than those obtained in human subjects. The changes do not appear to be correlated with changes in electrode impedance. The variability in response suggests that empirically derived transfer functions may be required to optimize the response of individual canals to a vestibular prosthesis, and that this function may need to be remapped over time.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2014 · Hearing Research
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    • "Regardless of whether motion is transiently (e.g., [46]) or continually [8,11] applied. Here, electrical stimulation was applied via metal electrodes implanted within the labyrinth using an approach similar to that of recent studies by several groups [18,47,48]. This type of stimulation is thought to predominantly act at the spike initiator zone of primary vestibular afferents, although modulation of hair cell transmembrane potential and consequent changes in neurotransmitter release may also contribute [49,50]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The vestibular system detects motion of the head in space and in turn generates reflexes that are vital for our daily activities. The eye movements produced by the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) play an essential role in stabilizing the visual axis (gaze), while vestibulo-spinal reflexes ensure the maintenance of head and body posture. The neuronal pathways from the vestibular periphery to the cervical spinal cord potentially serve a dual role, since they function to stabilize the head relative to inertial space and could thus contribute to gaze (eye-in-head + head-in-space) and posture stabilization. To date, however, the functional significance of vestibular-neck pathways in alert primates remains a matter of debate. Here we used a vestibular prosthesis to 1) quantify vestibularly-driven head movements in primates, and 2) assess whether these evoked head movements make a significant contribution to gaze as well as postural stabilization. We stimulated electrodes implanted in the horizontal semicircular canal of alert rhesus monkeys, and measured the head and eye movements evoked during a 100ms time period for which the contribution of longer latency voluntary inputs to the neck would be minimal. Our results show that prosthetic stimulation evoked significant head movements with latencies consistent with known vestibulo-spinal pathways. Furthermore, while the evoked head movements were substantially smaller than the coincidently evoked eye movements, they made a significant contribution to gaze stabilization, complementing the VOR to ensure that the appropriate gaze response is achieved. We speculate that analogous compensatory head movements will be evoked when implanted prosthetic devices are transitioned to human patients.
    Preview · Article · Oct 2013 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: Bilateral loss of vestibular sensation causes difficulty maintaining stable vision, posture and gait. An implantable prosthesis that partly restores vestibular sensation could significantly improve quality of life for individuals disabled by this disorder. We have developed a head-mounted multichannel vestibular prosthesis (MVP) that restores sufficient semicircular canal function to recreate a 3D angular vestibulo-ocular reflex (aVOR). In this study, we evaluated effects of chronic MVP stimulation on locomotion in chinchillas. Two of three animals examined exhibited significant improvements in both locomotion and aVOR.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2011 · Conference proceedings: ... Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Conference
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