Rinsho Shinkeigaku (Clinical Neurology)

Symposium 3

Spatial orientation under microgravity

Izumi Koizuka

Department of Otolaryngology, St. Marianna University School of Medicine

On Earth, humans are constantly exposed to the gravity. During head and body tilts, the otolith organs sense changes in head orientation with respect to the gravitational vertical. These graviceptors also transduce transient linear acceleration generated by translational head motion and centripetal acceleration during rotation about a distant axis. When individuals are rotated at a constant velocity in a centrifuge, they sense the direction of the summed gravitational and centripetal acceleration as the vertical in the steady state. Consequently they experience a roll-tilt of the body when upright and oriented either left-ear-out or right-ear-out. This perception of tilt has been called the somatogravic illusion. Under the microgravity, the graviceptors no longer respond during static tilt of the head or head and body, but they are still activated by linear acceleration. Adaptation to weightlessness early in space flight has been proposed to entail a reinterpretation of the signals from the graviceptors (primarily the otolith organs), so that on return to Earth pitch or roll of the head with respect to the vertical is sensed as foreaft or left-right translation. In this article, formulation of the spatial orientation on the earth and under microgravity was described.
Full Text of this Article in Japanese PDF (292K)

(CLINICA NEUROL, 52: 1318|1320, 2012)
key words: spatial orientation, otolith organs, microgravity, space motion sickness, otolith tilt-translation reinterpretation theory

(Received: 25-May-12)