Prediction of space motion sickness susceptibility by disconjugate eye torsion in parabolic flight.

Aviation, space, and environmental medicine

PubMedID: 2012564

Diamond SG, Markham CH. Prediction of space motion sickness susceptibility by disconjugate eye torsion in parabolic flight. Aviat Space Environ Med. 1991;62(3):201-5.
The hypothesis of asymmetric otolith function asserts that physiological or anatomical differences in the two sides of the bilateral gravity-sensing otolith apparatus of the inner ear may be well compensated on Earth, but when exposed to novel gravitational states, the prior compensatory stratagems may be ineffective, leading to unstable vestibular responses and causing the phenomenon of space motion sickness. To investigate this hypothesis, spontaneous eye torsion, a reflex governed by the otolith organs, was examined in the upright position during the hypo- and hypergravity of parabolic flight aboard NASA's KC-135 aircraft in nine former astronauts whose history of space motion sickness was revealed after data analysis had been completed. Results showed that astronauts who had been sick in space had significantly higher scores of disconjugate eye torsion in parabolic flight, and that their responses were consistently different in 1.8 G relative to 0 G compared to astronauts who had not been sick in space. In 1 G, there were no differences in disconjugate eye torsion between the subjects. The results support the asymmetry hypothesis and offer a possible predictive test of space motion sickness.