Figure ice skating induces vestibulo-ocular adaptation specific to required athletic skills

Dario Alpini, Mirco Botta, Valentina Mattei, Davide Tornese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of the paper is to investigate whether rotational vestibulo-ocular and visuo-vestibulo-ocular reflexes may undergo different adaptive gain changes depending on specific athletic motor skills required by the different specialities of figure skating. Twenty-five right-handed athletes from the Italian National Figure Skating Team were investigated, divided into three groups according to their discipline: 8 dancers, 13 singles and 4 pairs. Rotational vestibulo-ocular and visuo-vestibuloocular reflexes were recorded by electrooculography as slow phases of per-rotatory nystagmus during 0.10-Hz sinusoidal stimulation, respectively, in the darkness and in the light. Gain was reduced only in dancers whereas it was normal in singles and pairs. A clearcut clockwise directional preponderance was revealed only in dancers. The results confirm that, also from a vestibular point of view, singles and dancers look different, with pairs as an intermediate pattern. Furthermore, it has been shown that the human rotational vestibulo-ocular system is capable of asymmetric adaptation. Alterations in rotational vestibulo-ocular parameters observed in figure skaters result from vestibular habituation, but these kind of adaptations depend on the athletic tasks specific for each discipline, and they provide evidence for interdependent mechanisms for control of clockwise and counterclockwise oculomotor control at least in the low-frequency stimulation domain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-134
Number of pages6
JournalSport Sciences for Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Figure skating
  • Vestibulo-ocular reflex
  • Visuo-vestibulo-ocular reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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