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August 1989

Studies of the Horizontal Vestibulo-ocular Reflex in Spaceflight

Author Affiliations

From the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Johnson Space Center (Drs Thornton and Pool); Mission Science Support Office, GE Government Services (Dr Uri), Houston, Tex; and the Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis, Ind (Dr Moore).

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1989;115(8):943-949. doi:10.1001/archotol.1989.01860320053018

• Changes in the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) during space flight have been suspected of contributing to space motion sickness. The horizontal VOR was studied in nine subjects on two space shuttle missions. Active unpaced head oscillation at 0.3 Hz was used as the stimulus to examine the gain and phase of the VOR with and without visual input, as well as the visual suppression of the reflex. No statistically significant changes were noted inflight in the gains or phase shifts of the VOR during any test condition, or between space motion sickness susceptible and nonsusceptible populations. Although VOR suppression was unaffected by spaceflight, the space motion sickness–susceptible group tended to exhibit greater error in the suppression than the nonsusceptible group. It is concluded that at this stimulus frequency, VOR gain is unaffected by space-flight, and any minor individual changes do not seem to contribute to space motion sickness.

(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1989;115:943-949)

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