Characteristics and mechanism of apogeotropic central positional nystagmus

Jeong Yoon Choi, Stefan Glasauer, Ji Hyun Kim, David S. Zee, Ji Soo Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Here we characterize persistent apogeotropic type of central positional nystagmus, and compare it with the apogeotropic nystagmus of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo involving the lateral canal. Nystagmus was recorded in 27 patients with apogeotropic type of central positional nystagmus (22 with unilateral and five with diffuse cerebellar lesions) and 20 patients with apogeotropic nystagmus of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. They were tested while sitting, while supine with the head straight back, and in the right and left ear-down positions. The intensity of spontaneous nystagmus was similar while sitting and supine in apogeotropic type of central positional nystagmus, but greater when supine in apogeotropic nystagmus of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. In central positional nystagmus, when due to a focal pathology, the lesions mostly overlapped in the vestibulocerebellum (nodulus, uvula, and tonsil). We suggest a mechanism for apogeotropic type of central positional nystagmus based on the location of lesions and a model that uses the velocity-storage mechanism. During both tilt and translation, the otolith organs can relay the same gravito-inertial acceleration signal. This inherent ambiguity can be resolved by a 'tilt-estimator circuit' in which information from the semicircular canals about head rotation is combined with otolith information about linear acceleration through the velocity-storage mechanism. An example of how this mechanism works in normal subjects is the sustained horizontal nystagmus that is produced when a normal subject is rotated at a constant speed around an axis that is tilted away from the true vertical (off-vertical axis rotation). We propose that when the tilt-estimator circuit malfunctions, for example, with lesions in the vestibulocerebellum, the estimate of the direction of gravity is erroneously biased away from true vertical. If the bias is toward the nose, when the head is turned to the side while supine, there will be sustained, unwanted, horizontal positional nystagmus (apogeotropic type of central positional nystagmus) because of an inappropriate feedback signal indicating that the head is rotating when it is not.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)762-775
Number of pages14
JournalBrain
Volume141
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Mar 1

Keywords

  • Nodulus
  • Nystagmus
  • Positional nystagmus
  • Velocity-storage mechanism
  • Vertigo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Characteristics and mechanism of apogeotropic central positional nystagmus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this