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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
22-Sep-2009

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Contact: Graeme Baldwin
graeme.baldwin@biomedcentral.com
44-203-192-2165
BioMed Central
@biomedcentral

Balance organs affect brain blood flow

The organs of the inner ear have a direct effect on brain blood flow, independent of blood pressure and CO2 levels in the blood. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Neuroscience used a series of human centrifuge experiments to investigate the effects of stimulation of the otoliths and semi-circular canals on cerebrovascular response.

Dr. Jorge Serrador, from Harvard Medical School, worked with a team of researchers, including NASA scientists, to carry out the tests. He said, "While a role for the vestibular system in the autonomic response to position has been documented, this is the first study to demonstrate a direct effect of otolith stimulation on cerebral blood flow".

The researchers stimulated the vestibular organs of 25 healthy people by tilting them forwards and backwards, and by translation on a centrifuge. Changes in cerebral flow velocity were dependent on the frequency of vestibular stimulation and were in opposition to changes in blood pressure and not directly related to changes in end tidal CO2.

Speaking about the implications of these results, Serrador said, "Standing up places the head above the heart and thus makes it harder to provide blood flow to the brain. Having a connection between the otoliths, which tell us that we are standing, and the cerebrovasculature may be part of the adaption that allows us to maintain our brain blood flow when upright. This connection might explain the reduced cerebral blood flow in some people. For example, aging is associated with vestibular loss that might contribute to reductions in global cerebral blood flow. Similarly, patients with orthostatic intolerance could have underlying vestibular impairment that exacerbates cerebral hypoperfusion when upright. The knowledge gained from this study might lead to new treatment options for these conditions".

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Notes to Editors

1. Vestibular effects on cerebral blood flow
Jorge M Serrador, Todd T Schlegel, F Owen Black and Scott J Wood
BMC Neuroscience (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/imedia/1964650529259240_article.pdf?random=61139

After the embargo, article available at the journal website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcneurosci/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication.

2. BMC Neuroscience is an open access journal publishing original peer-reviewed research articles in all aspects of the nervous system, including molecular, cellular, developmental and animal model studies, as well as cognitive and behavioral research, and computational modeling. BMC Neuroscience (ISSN 1471-2202) is indexed/tracked/covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, BIOSIS, CAS, Scopus, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Google Scholar.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.



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