Cervical muscle afferents play a dominant role over vestibular afferents during bilateral vibration of neck muscles

J Vestib Res. 2006;16(3):127-36.


A previous study showed that vibratory stimulation of neck muscles in humans induced short-latency electromyographic (EMG) activation of lower leg muscles, producing postural reactions at the feet. These findings indicated that cervical proprioception contributes to stabilization of stance through rapidly integrated pathways. However, as vibration may excite both proprioceptive and vestibular afferents, and because of the proximity of neck muscles to the vestibular apparatus, neck muscle vibration could also have activated the vestibular system thereby contributing to the effect observed. To investigate any possible contribution of vestibular stimulation, vibratory stimuli were applied bilaterally and separately to the splenius muscles of the neck and the planum mastoideum overlying the vestibular organs. Ten normal subjects, with eyes closed, were exposed to vibratory stimulation of two different amplitudes and frequencies. Responses were assessed by EMG activity recorded from tibialis anterior and gastrocnemius muscles of both legs and by changes in center of pressure as measured by a force platform. Results indicated that vibration induced reproducible EMG and postural responses in the anteroposterior direction, particularly on cessation of vibration. EMG and postural responses were considerably lower and less consistent with mastoid vibration compared with neck muscles vibration. Previous reports suggest that vibratory stimulation could propagate to the vestibular organs and generate a vestibular-induced postural activation. However, our findings indicate that cervical muscles afferents play a dominant role over vestibular afferents when vibration is directed towards the neck muscles.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Electronic Data Processing
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neck Muscles / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Reaction Time
  • Vestibular Nerve / physiology*
  • Vibration*
  • Vision, Ocular