The steady-state postural response to continuous sinusoidal galvanic vestibular stimulation

L. D. Latt, P. J. Sparto, J. M. Furman, M. S. Redfern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) applied between the mastoids during quiet standing elicits postural sway. The aim of this study was to characterize the postural sway response to continuous sinusoidal GVS across various stimulus frequencies and amplitudes. Binaural bipolar sinusoidal GVS was applied to the skin overlying the mastoid processes of 10 subjects while they stood on a force plate with eyes closed. The position of the center of pressure (COP) at the feet was recorded from a forceplate, while the head displacement was measured with a magnetic position tracking system. The stimulus conditions included four frequencies (0.1, 0.25, 0.45, and 1.1 Hz) and five peak amplitudes (0.05, 0.1, 0.25, 0.5, and 1.0 mA). Each subject experienced one trial at each amplitude-frequency pair. Additionally, each subject underwent three trials in which a dual-frequency stimulus (0.1 plus 0.45 Hz at a peak of 0.5 mA each) was presented. The stimuli elicited sway in the frontal plane in all subjects, as evidenced by changes in the displacement of the COP and head. Sway magnitude decreased with increasing stimulus frequency and increased with increasing stimulus amplitude. However, the response magnitude saturated at higher stimulus amplitudes. Phase lag increased with increasing stimulus frequency. The response to the dual-frequency stimulus was reduced at 0.1 Hz and nearly equal at 0.45 Hz in comparison with the single-frequency responses. This study suggests that the postural sway response is nonlinear due to saturation and violation of the principle of superposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-72
Number of pages9
JournalGait and Posture
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2003


  • Balance
  • Phase
  • Power spectral density

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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