Electrodermal and postural responses in dizzy adults: Diagnostic indicators of vestibular migraine

Doaa S. Alsharif, Carole A. Tucker, Donna L. Coffman, Emily A. Keshner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: No reliable biometric measurement of vestibular involvement with migraine is currently available. OBJECTIVE: Measures of autonomic nervous system and postural responses could serve as quantifiable indicators of vestibular involvement with migraine. METHODS: A convenience sample of 22 young healthy adults (34±9 years old) and 23 young adults (34±8 years old) diagnosed with vestibular migraine (VM) participated. A rod and frame test and clinical outcome measures of dizziness and mobility were administered. Participants stood on foam while viewing two dynamic virtual environments. Trunk acceleration in three planes and electrodermal activity (EDA) were assessed with wearable sensors. Linear mixed models were used to examine magnitude and smoothness of trunk acceleration and tonic and phasic EDA. A Welch's t-test and associations between measures were assessed with a Pearson Correlation Coefficient. Effect sizes of group mean differences were calculated using Cohen's d. RESULTS: Visual dependence was present in 83% of the VM population. Individuals with VM exhibited lower baseline EDA (t(4.17)=-7.2, p=0.001) and greater normalized trunk accelerations in the vertical (t(42.5)=2.861, p=0.006) and medial (t(46.6)=2.65, p=0.01) planes than healthy participants. Tonic EDA activity increased significantly across the period of the trial (F (1,417)=23.31, p=0.001) in the VM group. Significant associations appeared between vertical trunk acceleration and EDA, Dizziness Handicap Inventory, and Activities of Balance Confidence tools. CONCLUSIONS: Higher tonic EDA activity in healthy adults results in more accurate postural reactions. Results support the supposition that EDA activity and postural acceleration are significantly different between VM and healthy individuals when accommodating for postural instability and visual-vestibular conflict.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-62
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Vestibular Research: Equilibrium and Orientation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • VVM
  • Vestibular migraine
  • autonomic nervous system
  • otoliths
  • virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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