The Neural Correlates of Chronic Symptoms of Vertigo Proneness in Humans
Vestibular signals are of significant importance for variable functions including gaze stabilization, spatial perception, navigation, cognition, and bodily self-consciousness. The vestibular network governs functions that might be impaired in patients affected with vestibular dysfunction. It is currently unclear how different brain regions/networks process vestibular information and integrate the information into a unified spatial percept related to somatosensory awareness and whether people with recurrent balance complaints have a neural signature as a trait affecting their development of chronic symptoms of vertigo. Pivotal evidence points to a vestibular-related brain network in humans that is widely distributed in nature. By using resting state source localized electroencephalography in non-vertiginous state, electrophysiological changes in activity and functional connectivity of 23 patients with balance complaints where chronic symptoms of vertigo and dizziness are among the most common reported complaints are analyzed and compared to healthy subjects. The analyses showed increased alpha2 activity within the posterior cingulate cortex and the precuneues/cuneus and reduced beta3 and gamma activity within the pregenual and subgenual anterior cingulate cortex for the subjects with balance complaints. These electrophysiological variations were correlated with reported chronic symptoms of vertigo intensity. A region of interest analysis found reduced functional connectivity for gamma activity within the vestibular cortex, precuneus, frontal eye field, intra-parietal sulcus, orbitofrontal cortex, and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. In addition, there was a positive correlation between chronic symptoms of vertigo intensity and increased alpha-gamma nesting in the left frontal eye field. When compared to healthy subjects, there is evidence of electrophysiological changes in the brain of patients with balance complaints even outside chronic symptoms of vertigo episodes. This suggests that these patients have a neural signature or trait that makes them prone to developing chronic balance problems.