Improvement of a face perception deficit via sub-sensory galvanic vestibular stimulation

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Wilkinson, David T. ; Ko, Philip ; Kilduff, Patrick ; McGlinchey, Regina ; Milberg, William P. (2005)

The remediative effect of galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) was investigated in a patient who, following right hemisphere damage, is profoundly unable to recognize faces. We administered a two-alternative forced choice match-to-sample task in which the patient had to choose which of two faces matched a sample face presented directly above, while bipolar, transcutaneous Current was applied to the left and right Vestibular nerves at a level below the patient's sensory threshold. Performance improved beyond the chance-level observed prestimulation. and relied on reversing the electrode polarity across two separate blocks of trials. such that each mastoid received positive current for one block and then negative charge for the next. Although our study involved only a single case, the data provide preliminary evidence that a deficit in perceptual face matching can be reduced by GVS. This raises the intriguing possibility that other unilateral visual disorders may also respond in such a manner.
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