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Navigation strategies in patients with vestibular loss tested in a virtual reality T-maze

Abstract : During navigation, humans mainly rely on egocentric and allocentric spatial strategies, two different frames of reference working together to build a coherent representation of the environment. Spatial memory deficits during navigation have been repeatedly reported in patients with vestibular disorders. However, little is known about how vestibular disorders can change the use of spatial navigation strategies. Here, we used a new reverse T-maze paradigm in virtual reality to explore whether vestibular loss specifically modifies the use of egocentric or allocentric spatial strategies in patients with unilateral (n = 23) and bilateral (n = 23) vestibular loss compared to healthy volunteers (n = 23) matched for age, sex and education level. Results showed that the odds of selecting and using a specific strategy in the T-maze were significantly reduced in both unilateral and bilateral vestibular loss. An exploratory analysis suggests that only right vestibular loss decreased the odds of adopting a spatial strategy, indicating an asymmetry of vestibular functions. When considering patients who used strategies to navigate, we observed that a bilateral vestibular loss reduced the odds to use an allocentric strategy, whereas a unilateral vestibular loss decreased the odds to use an egocentric strategy. Age was significantly associated with an overall lower chance to adopt a navigation strategy and, more specifically, with a decrease in the odds of using an allocentric strategy. We did not observe any sex difference in the ability to select and use a specific navigation strategy. Findings are discussed in light of previous studies on visuo-spatial abilities and studies of vestibulo-hippocampal interactions in peripheral vestibular disorders. We discuss the potential impact of the history of the disease (chronic stage in patients with a bilateral vestibulopathy vs. subacute stage in patients with a unilateral vestibular loss), of hearing impairment and non-specific attentional deficits in patients with vestibular disorders.
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Contributor : Christophe Lopez Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Tuesday, October 25, 2022 - 4:30:30 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, October 27, 2022 - 4:09:36 AM


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Roberto Gammeri, Jacques Léonard, Michel Toupet, Charlotte Hautefort, Christian van Nechel, et al.. Navigation strategies in patients with vestibular loss tested in a virtual reality T-maze. Journal of Neurology, 2022, 269 (8), pp.4333 - 4348. ⟨10.1007/s00415-022-11069-z⟩. ⟨hal-03819941⟩



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