Although the discovery and understanding of the function of the vestibular system date back only to the 19th century, strategies that involve vestibular stimulation were used long before to calm, soothe and even cure people. While such stimulation was classically achieved with various motion devices, like Cox’s chair or Hallaran’s swing, the development of caloric and galvanic vestibular stimulation has opened up new possibilities in the 20th century. With the increasing knowledge and recognition of vestibular contributions to various perceptual, motor, cognitive, and emotional processes, vestibular stimulation has been suggested as a powerful and non-invasive treatment for a range of psychiatric, neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions. Yet, the therapeutic interventions were, and still are, often not hypothesis-driven as broader theories remain scarce and underlying neurophysiological mechanisms are often vague. We aim to critically review the literature on vestibular stimulation as a form of therapy in various selected disorders and present its successes, expectations, and drawbacks from a historical perspective.
AndersonC. M.PolcariA.LowenS. B.RenshawP. F.TeicherM. H. (2002).
Effects of methylphenidate on functional magnetic resonance relaxometry of the cerebellar vermis in boys with ADHD,
Am. J. Psychiatry159,
Barnett-CowanM.MeilingerT.VidalM.TeufelH.BülthoffH. H. (2012).
MPI CyberMotion Simulator: implementation of a novel motion simulator to investigate multisensory path integration in three dimensions,
J. Vis. Exp. (63), e3436. DOI:10.3791/3436.
BottiniG.GandolaM.SeddaA.FerrèE. R. (2013).
Caloric vestibular stimulation: interaction between somatosensory system and vestibular apparatus,
Front. Integr. Neurosci.7, 66. DOI:10.3389/fnint.2013.00066.
EaggerS.LuxonL. M.DaviesR. A.CoelhoA.RonM. A. (1992).
Psychiatric morbidity in patients with peripheral vestibular disorder: a clinical and neuro-otological study,
J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatry55,
On the grounds for detaching a particular syndrome from neurasthenia under the description “anxiety neurosis”, in:
The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. III (1893–1899): Early Psycho-Analytic Publications,
StracheyJ. (Ed. and transl.), pp.
85–115. Hogarth Press, London, UK.
GoldbergJ. M.SmithC. E.FernandezC. (1984).
Relation between discharge regularity and responses to externally applied galvanic currents in vestibular nerve afferents of the squirrel monkey,
Jauregui-RenaudK.SangF. Y. P.GrestyM. A.GreenD. A.BronsteinA. M. (2008).
Depersonalisation/derealisation symptoms and updating orientation in patients with vestibular disease,
J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatry79,
Schwindelerregend: Drehmaschinen in der vormodernen Psychiatrie, in:
Körper, Dinge Und Bewegung: Der Gleichgewichtssinn in Materieller Kultur Und Ästhetik,
SchönhammerR. (Ed.), pp.
128–139. Facultas, Wien, Austria.
KornerA. F.LaneN. M.BerryK. L.RhoJ. M.BrownB. W. (1990).
Sleep enhanced and irritability reduced in preterm infants: differential efficacy of three types of waterbeds,
J. Dev. Behav. Pediatr.11,
KrystalA. D.ZammitG. K.WyattJ. K.QuanS. F.EdingerJ. D.WhiteD. P.ChiacchieriniR. P.MalhotraA. (2010).
The effect of vestibular stimulation in a four-hour sleep phase advance model of transient insomnia,
J. Clin. Sleep Med.6,
Studies on headache: analysis of vascular mechanisms in headache by use of the human centrifuge, with observations on pain perception under increased positive g,
Arch. Neurol. Psychiatry60,
LenggenhagerB.LopezC. (2015). Vestibular contributions to the sense of body, self, and others, in: T. Metzinger, and J. M. Windt (Eds), Open MIND, 23(T), MIND-Group, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. DOI:10.15502/9783958570023.
Influence of galvanic vestibular stimulation on egocentric and object-based mental transformations,
Exp. Brain Res.184,
Beneficial effects of caloric vestibular stimulation on denial of illness and manic delusions in schizoaffective disorder: a case report,
LevinsonH. N. (1991).
Dramatic favorable responses of children with learning disabilities or dyslexia and attention deficit disorder to antimotion sickness medications: four case reports,
Percept. Mot. Skills73,
MaedaT.AndoH.SugimotoM. (2005). Virtual acceleration with galvanic vestibular stimulation in a virtual reality environment, in: Proceedings IEEE Virtual Reality, 2005, pp. 289–290.
MastF. W.PreussN.HartmannM.GrabherrL. (2014).
Spatial cognition, body representation and affective processes: the role of vestibular information beyond ocular reflexes and control of posture,
Front. Integr. Neurosci.8, 44. DOI:10.3389/fnint.2014.00044.
Effects of galvanic vestibular stimulation combined with physical therapy on pusher behavior in stroke patients: a case series,
Caloric vestibular stimulation as a treatment for conversion disorder: a case report and medical hypothesis,
Front. Psychiatry5, 63. DOI:10.3389/fpsyt.2014.00063.
NoreikaV.WindtJ. M.LenggenhagerB.KarimA. A. (2010).
New perspectives for the study of lucid dreaming: from brain stimulation to philosophical theories of self-consciousness,
Int. J. Dream Res.3,
OosterveldW. J.GraybielA.CramerD. B. (1973).
Susceptibility to reflex vestibular disturbances and motion sickness as a function of mental states of alertness and sleep,
OppenländerK.KellerI.KarbachJ.SchindlerI.KerkhoffG.ReinhartS.(in press; published online ahead of print November 2014).
Subliminal galvanic-vestibular stimulation influences ego- and object-centred components of visual neglect,
Facial macrosomatognosia and pain in a case of Wallenberg’s syndrome: selective effects of vestibular and transcutaneous stimulations,
RordenC.KarnathH. O.DriverJ. (2001).
Do neck-proprioceptive and caloric-vestibular stimulation influence covert visual attention in normals, as they influence visual neglect?Neuropsychologia39,
RubinsteinJ. T.TylerR. S. (2004).
Electrical suppression of tinnitus, in:
Tinnitus: Theory and Management,
SnowJ. B. (Ed.), pp.
326–335. B. C. Decker Inc., Hamilton, ON, Canada & Lewiston, New York, NY, USA.
SamoudiG.NissbrandtH.DutiaM. B.BergquistF. (2012).
Noisy galvanic vestibular stimulation promotes GABA release in the substantia nigra and improves locomotion in hemiparkinsonian rats,
PLoS One7, e29308. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0029308.
SchmidtL.KellerI.UtzK. S.ArtingerF.StumpfO.KerkhoffG. (2013).
Galvanic vestibular stimulation improves arm position sense in spatial neglect: a sham-stimulation-controlled study,
Neurorehabil. Neural Repair27,
UtzK. S.DimovaV.OppenländerK.KerkhoffG. (2010).
Electrified minds: transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) as methods of non-invasive brain stimulation in neuropsychology — a review of current data and future implications,
UtzK. S.KorlussK.SchmidtL.RosenthalA.OppenländerK.KellerI.KerkhoffG. (2011).
Minor adverse effects of galvanic vestibular stimulation in persons with stroke and healthy individuals,
Maturational effects of the vestibular system: a study of rotary chair, computerized dynamic posturography, and vestibular evoked myogenic potentials with children,
J. Am. Acad. Audiol.18,
VossU.HolzmannR.HobsonA.PaulusW.Koppehele-GosselJ.KlimkeA.NitscheM. A. (2014).
Induction of self awareness in dreams through frontal low current stimulation of gamma activity,
WinterL.KrugerT. H. C.LaurensJ.EnglerH.SchedlowskiM.StraumannD.WollmerM. A. (2012).
Vestibular stimulation on a motion-simulator impacts on mood states,
Front. Psychol. B, 499. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00499.
YoungS. M. (1987). The effect of vestibular stimulation on Parkinsonian step length, Thesis, University of Ulster.
zu EulenburgP.BaumgärtnerU.TreedeR.-D.DieterichM. (2013).
Interoceptive and multimodal functions of the operculo-insular cortex: tactile, nociceptive and vestibular representations,