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Dlugaiczyk, J.; Gensberger, Kathrin D.; Straka, Hans ORCID: 0000-0003-2874-0441 (1. June 2019): Galvanic vestibular stimulation: from basic concepts to clinical applications. In: Journal of Neurophysiology, Vol. 121, No. 8: pp. 2237-2255
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Abstract

Galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) plays an important role in the quest to understand sensory signal processing in the vestibular system under normal and pathological conditions. It has become a highly relevant tool to probe neuronal computations and to assist in the differentiation and treatment of vestibular syndromes. Following its accidental discovery, GVS became a diagnostic tool that generates eye movements in the absence of head/body motion. With the possibility to record extracellular and intracellular spikes, GVS became an indispensable method to activate or block the discharge in vestibular nerve fibers by cathodal and anodal currents, respectively. Bernie Cohen, in his attempt to decipher vestibular signal processing, has used this method in a number of hallmark studies that have added to our present knowledge, such as the link between selective electrical stimulation of semicircular canal nerves and the generation of directionally corresponding eye movements. His achievements paved the way for other major milestones including the differential recruitment order of vestibular fibers for cathodal and anodal currents, pronounced discharge adaptation of irregularly firing afferents, potential activation of hair cells, and fiber type-specific activation of central circuits. Previous disputes about the structural substrate for GVS are resolved by integrating knowledge of ion channel-related response dynamics of afferents, fiber type-specific innervation patterns, and central convergence and integration of semicircular canal and otolith signals. On the basis of solid knowledge of the methodology, specific waveforms of GVS are currently used in clinical diagnosis and patient treatment, such as vestibular implants and noisy galvanic stimulation.