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Subliminal galvanic-vestibular stimulation influences ego- and object-centred components of visual neglect

Oppenländer, Karin; Keller, Ingo; Karbach, Julia; Schindler, Igor; Kerkhoff, Georg; Reinhart, Stefan


Karin Oppenländer

Ingo Keller

Julia Karbach

Georg Kerkhoff

Stefan Reinhart


Neglect patients show contralesional deficits in egocentric and object-centred visuospatial tasks. The extent to which these different phenomena are modulated by sensory stimulation remains to be clarified. Subliminal galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) induces imperceptible, polarity-specific changes in the cortical vestibular systems without the unpleasant side effects (nystagmus, vertigo) induced by caloric vestibular stimulation. While previous studies showed vestibular stimulation effects on egocentric spatial neglect phenomena, such effects were rarely demonstrated in object-centred neglect. Here, we applied bipolar subsensory GVS over the mastoids (mean intensity: 0.7. mA) to investigate its influence on egocentric (digit cancellation, text copying), object-centred (copy of symmetrical figures), or both (line bisection) components of visual neglect in 24 patients with unilateral right hemisphere stroke. Patients were assigned to two patient groups (impaired vs. normal in the respective task) on the basis of cut-off scores derived from the literature or from normal controls. Both groups performed all tasks under three experimental conditions carried out on three separate days: (a) sham/baseline GVS where no electric current was applied, (b) left cathodal/right anodal (CL/AR) GVS and (c) left anodal/right cathodal (AL/CR) GVS, for a period of 20. min per session. CL/AR GVS significantly improved line bisection and text copying whereas AL/CR GVS significantly ameliorated figure copying and digit cancellation. These GVS effects were selectively observed in the impaired- but not in the unimpaired patient group. In conclusion, subliminal GVS modulates ego- and object-centred components of visual neglect rapidly. Implications for neurorehabilitation are discussed.


Oppenländer, K., Keller, I., Karbach, J., Schindler, I., Kerkhoff, G., & Reinhart, S. (2015). Subliminal galvanic-vestibular stimulation influences ego- and object-centred components of visual neglect. Neuropsychologia, 74, 170-177.

Acceptance Date Jul 21, 2014
Online Publication Date Nov 6, 2014
Publication Date 2015-07
Deposit Date Mar 3, 2016
Publicly Available Date Sep 11, 2018
Journal Neuropsychologia
Print ISSN 0028-3932
Electronic ISSN 1873-3514
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 74
Pages 170-177
Keywords Egocentric; Object-centred; Neglect; Attention; Rehabilitation; Galvanic-vestibular stimulation
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the authors accepted manuscript of an article published in Neuropsychologia, 2014, v.74.


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