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The critical role of vestibular graviception during cognitive-motor development

Abstract : Earth's gravity acts both as a mechanical stimulus on the body and as a sensory stimulus to the vestibular organ, which is transmitted into the brain. The vestibular system has been recently highlighted as the cornerstone of the multisensory cortex and of the dorsal hippocampus related to spatial cognition. Consequently, we have hypothesized that the vestibular sensory perception of gravity by the otoliths might also play a crucial role during the first stages of development in both sensorimotor and cognitive functions and the construction and perception of the 'self' and related functions of orientation and navigation. We have investigated an original mouse model (Head Tilted mice, B6Ei.GL-Nox3het/J) suffering from a selective congenital absence of vestibular otolithic gravisensors. We report that mouse pups suffered from a delay in the acquisition of sensorimotor reflexes, spatial olfactory guidance, path integration, and ultrasonic communication, while maternal care remained normal. We demonstrate that development has a critical period dependent on the vestibular otolithic sensory perception of gravity, probably temporally between the somesthetic and visual critical periods. The symptoms expressed by the congenital otolithic-deficient mice are similar to validated mouse models of autism and highlight the significance of vestibular graviception in the pathophysiology of development.
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A. Le Gall, Pascal Hilber, C. Chesneau, J. Bulla, J. Toulouse, et al.. The critical role of vestibular graviception during cognitive-motor development. Behavioural Brain Research, Elsevier, 2019, 372, pp.112040. ⟨10.1016/j.bbr.2019.112040⟩. ⟨hal-02355849⟩

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