Vestibular insights into cognition and psychiatry

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Abstract

The vestibular system has traditionally been thought of as a balance apparatus; however, accumulating research suggests an association between vestibular function and psychiatric and cognitive symptoms, even when balance is measurably unaffected. There are several brain regions that are implicated in both vestibular pathways and psychiatric disorders. The present review examines the anatomical associations between the vestibular system and various psychiatric disorders. Despite the lack of direct evidence for vestibular pathology in the key psychiatric disorders selected for this review, there is a substantial body of literature implicating the vestibular system in each of the selected psychiatric disorders. The second part of this review provides complimentary evidence showing the link between vestibular dysfunction and vestibular stimulation upon cognitive and psychiatric symptoms. In summary, emerging research suggests the vestibular system can be considered a potential window for exploring brain function beyond that of maintenance of balance, and into areas of cognitive, affective and psychiatric symptomology. Given the paucity of biological and diagnostic markers in psychiatry, novel avenues to explore brain function in psychiatric disorders are of particular interest and warrant further exploration. ? 2013 The Authors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244 - 259
Number of pages16
JournalBrain Research
Volume1537
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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