Vestibular adaptation in ice skaters depends on discipline rather than age: Some considerations about navigational control

Dario Carlo Alpini, Mirco Botta, Valentina Mattei, Davide Tornese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Clear-cut differences have been described in both postural control and ocular reflexes in ice figure skaters between dancers and singles. We have previously shown that at least in long-trained athletes (that to say senior athletes) these kinds of adaptations depend on the tasks specific to each ice skating discipline providing evidence of interdependent mechanisms for vestibular control of clockwise and counter-clockwise oculomotion. The aim of this study was to determine if vestibuloocular adaptation depends on age or on discipline. The study group comprised 23 right-handed athletes from the Junior Italian National Figure Skating Team. They were divided into two groups: 8 dancers (4 girls and 4 boys, mean age 15.7 years), and 15 singles (8 girls and 7 boys, mean age 15. 6 years). Rotational ocular reflexes were recorded by bitemporal DC-coupled electro-oculography as slow phases of per-rotatory nystagmus during rotation in the dark (rotational vestibuloocular reflex) and in the light (rotational visuovestibuloocular reflex). For both tests only directional preponderance was considered because the previous study showed the most clear-cut difference between dancers and singles. Our results support the idea that navigational strategies in ice skaters are dependent mainly on discipline rather than on age (that to say years of training). In particular, vestibular adaptation was independent of age while visuovestibular adaptation was dependent on age and represents a "dynamic internal model" of the relationships among visual, vestibular and proprioceptive inputs into the central processing system that depend on specific stimuli induced by different discipline-dependent activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-103
Number of pages5
JournalSport Sciences for Health
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • Ice figure skating
  • Navigation
  • Orientation
  • Vestibuloocular reflex (VOR)
  • Visuovestibuloocular reflex (VVOR)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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