DOI: 10.14704/nq.2019.17.4.2043

Vestibular Stimulation in Humans by Static Magnetic Fields of A 3T MRI Scanner – A Pilot Study

Katarzyna Pawlak Osinska, Aleksandra Wypych, Stanislaw Osinski, Henryk Kazmierczak, Maria Marzec, Jacek Matulewski, Zbigniew Serafin


Background: The presence of vertigo and nystagmus in high magnetic field opens up the possibility of using such a stimulation for clinical purposes. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to test the possibility of vestibular activation, expressed by nystagmus, using a custom clinical MRI scanner.

Methods: Twelve volunteers were included. The right eye gaze location was recorded during introduction of the subject to the 3T MRI scanner's bore and during a similar movement outside the MRI suite. From the raw data from eyetracker Arrington, deviation angles of gaze and angular velocities and another parameters of nystagmus were calculated.

Results: All subjects presented the changes in eye movements direction and strength during introduction to the scanner. In control conditions, obtained nystagmus was predominantly vertical- this domination disappeared in magnetic field. The results presented a significant inter-subject variability. Movement on the scanner's table resulted in a larger and faster change in the pupil's position in X and Y axes (P<0.02). Compared to standard conditions, magnetic field tended to stabilize the movement in Y axis (P<0.02). Statistical analysis showed that during 120 s of observation, the maximal nystagmus was noted in 52,2s; the minimal in 71,6s. Nystagmus did not disappear, its frequency was 0,45. The direction of nystagmus in MRI was predominantly horizontal.

Conclusions: Introduction of healthy individuals into an MRI scanner during custom clinical conditions results in a vestibular activation that is different from the same movement outside artificial magnetic field. However, the reaction presents a significant inter-subject variability.


magnetic resonance imaging, nystagmus, vestibular system

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Supporting Agencies

The paper has been developed thanks to the help of the Centre for Modern Interdisciplinary Technologies, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland. The study was supported by The National Centre for Research and Development (grant STRATEGMED 1/24866

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