There is increasing evidence that vestibular disorders evoke deficits reaching far beyond imbalance, oscillopsia and spatial cognition. Yet, how vestibular disorders affect own-body representations, in particular the perceived body shape and size, has been overlooked. Here, we explored vestibular contributions to own-body representations using two approaches. Study 1 measured the occurrence and severity of distorted own-body representations in 60 patients with dizziness and 60 healthy controls using six items from the Cambridge Depersonalization Scale. 12% of the patients have experienced distorted own-body representations (their hands or feet felt larger or smaller), 37% reported abnormal sense of agency, 35% reported disownership for the body, and 22% reported disembodiment. These proportions were larger in patients than controls. Study 2 aimed at testing whether artificial stimulation of the vestibular apparatus produced comparable distortions of own-body representations in healthy volunteers. We compared the effects of right-warm/left-cold caloric vestibular stimulation (CVS), left-warm/right-cold CVS and sham CVS on internal models of the left and right hands using a pointing task. The perceived length of the dorsum of the hand was increased specifically during left-warm/right-cold CVS, and this effect was found for both hands. Our studies show a vestibular contribution to own-body representations and should help understand the complex symptomatology of patients with dizziness.
Journal of Neurology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 6, 2018
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