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Editorial: Role of Inner Ear in Self and Environment Perception

Abstract : Editorial on the Research Topic Role of Inner Ear in Self and Environment Perception Otoneurology and vestibular neuroscience recently advanced with a better understanding of the vestibular contributions to perceptual and cognitive functions, reaching far beyond balance, and eye-movement control. Pioneering clinical observations established connections between dizziness and altered sense of self, distortions of the body schema, and symptoms resembling depersonalization and derealization (1, 2). However, studies in large samples of patients with dizziness have only recently validated the assumption that the vestibular system is the main contributor to the bodily self (3, 4). Recent epidemiological studies have also linked vestibular disorders to cognitive deficits. For example, a survey in over 20,000 adults established that individuals reporting vestibular vertigo had an eight-fold increase in the odds of reporting impaired memory and attention, limiting their activities (5). Another survey conducted in adults over 60 years revealed that vestibular impairment partially mediated the association between age and cognitive impairment. It was estimated that vestibular impairment mediates 14.3% of the effects of age on cognition and that it accelerates cognitive decline by 5 years in a visuo-spatial test (6). These studies raise the necessity to investigate more carefully the effects of vestibular impairment in dementia and several psychiatric disorders (7, 8). Research in this area benefited from a better delineation of the human vestibular cortex. Functional MRI (fMRI) studies and meta-analyses of neuroimaging data have revealed that the cortical vestibular network is centered on the operculo-insular/retroinsular cortex (9) and that vestibular inputs also project to the temporo-parietal junction, cingulate cortex, somatosensory cortex, posterior parietal cortex, hippocampus, and frontal eye fields (10). These widespread vestibular projections to the brain were recently confirmed in whole-brain functional mapping in rodents using fMRI, local field potentials, and optogenetics (11, 12). We note that recent descriptions of functional connectivity, metabolic, and morphological brain alterations in peripheral vestibular disorders or chronic subjective dizziness [e.g., (13-15)] offer the possibility to evaluate, in a non-invasive manner, how various vestibular rehabilitation methods and drugs can improve brain plasticity. Finally, recent fMRI studies revealed the influence of cognition, emotion, and personality traits (such as neuroticism and introversion) on vestibular information processing [e.g., (16, 17)]. These observations suggest an expansion of the vestibular brain network into dimensions of emotion processing, mental health, and social cognition. This Research Topic collection includes 17 articles combining contributions from authors with a large range of expertise in medicine and basic science, including neurology, otorhinolaryngology, neurophysiology, physiotherapy, neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience, and bioengineering.
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Christophe Lopez, Michel Toupet, Christian van Nechel, Alexis Grayeli. Editorial: Role of Inner Ear in Self and Environment Perception. Frontiers in Neurology, Frontiers, 2020, 1, ⟨10.3389/fneur.2020.00022⟩. ⟨hal-02553536⟩

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