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Vestibulo-Ocular Responses, Visual Field Dependence, and Motion Sickness in Aerobatic Pilots

Abstract : BACKGROUND: Aerobatic flight is a challenge for the vestibular system, which is likely to lead to adaptive changes in the vestibular responses of pilots. We investigated whether aerobatic pilots, as individuals who experience intense vestibular stimulation, present modifications of the vestibular-ocular reflex, motion sickness susceptibility and intensity, visual vertical estimation, and visual dependence as compared to normal volunteers. METHODS: To evaluate vestibulo-ocular reflexes, eye movements were recorded with videonystagmography while subjects were rotated on a rotatory chair with the axis of rotation being vertical (canal-ocular reflex) or inclined to 17° (otolith-ocular reflex). Motion sickness was evaluated after the rotatory test using the Graybiel diagnostic criteria. General motion sickness susceptibility and visual field dependence were also evaluated. RESULTS: Averaged data did not show significant difference in canal-ocular reflex and otolith ocular-reflex between groups. However, a significant asymmetry in otolith-driven ocular responses was found in pilots (CW 0.50 ± 1.21° · s −1 vs. CCW 1.59 ± 1.12° · s −1 ), though visual vertical estimation was not altered in pilots and both groups were found field independent. Pilots were generally less susceptible to motion sickness (MSSQ scores: 2.52 ± 5.59 vs. 13.5 ± 11.36) and less affected by the nauseogenic stimulation (Graybiel diagnostic criteria 3.36 ± 3.81 vs. 8.39 ± 7.01). DISCUSSION: We did not observe the expected habituation in the group of aerobatic pilots. However, there was a significant asymmetry in the otolith-driven ocular responses in pilots, but not in the controls, which may result from the asymmetry in piloting protocols. Kuldavletova O, Tanguy S, Denise P, Quarck G. Vestibulo-ocular responses, visual field dependence, and motion sickness in aerobatic pilots . Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2020; 91(4):326–331.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, October 6, 2021 - 10:15:41 AM
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Gaëlle Quarck, Olga Kuldavletova, Sebastian Tanguy, Pierre Denise. Vestibulo-Ocular Responses, Visual Field Dependence, and Motion Sickness in Aerobatic Pilots. Aerospace Medecine and Human Performance, 2020, 91 (4), pp.326-331. ⟨10.3357/AMHP.5435.2020⟩. ⟨hal-03367238⟩



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