Moving is one of the most common activities in our daily lives and although often perceived as effortless (due to automatic/non-conscious cognitive control), moving and orienting oneself in space is a highly complex activity that requires the integration of many functional sensory, motor and cognitive neural processes.
One key functional process that ensures efficient body movements and proper orientation is located in our inner ear and named: the vestibular system. Together with the visual and proprioceptive systems, the vestibular system allows us to maintain our balance, vision and posture while moving and orienting ourselves in space.
For thousands of patients each year, moving and orienting themselves in space is more complex. These patients suffer from vestibular loss pathologies such as Menière disease, vestibular neuritis or vestibular schwannoma, which all reduce postural and oculomotor control. In addition to physical symptoms, patients express abnormal emotional and cognitive processing, leading to difficulties in the perception of their surrounding environment and a profound deterioration of quality of life.
Although natural physiological compensation is possible after vestibular loss, some patients never fully recover at the physical, emotional or cognitive level. Currently, we know very little about how different pathologies of vestibular loss lead to different cognitive/emotional profiles, and furthermore, how vestibular compensation interacts with the association between vestibular loss and cognition/emotion.
In our research, we try to better determine the specific neuropsychological profile of adults and children with vestibular loss.