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Vestibular stimulation attenuates unrealistic optimism


McKay, R; Tamagni, C; Palla, A; Krummenacher, P; Hegemann, S C A; Straumann, D; Brugger, P (2013). Vestibular stimulation attenuates unrealistic optimism. Cortex, 49(8):2272-2275.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Unrealistic optimism refers to the pervasive tendency of healthy individuals to underestimate their likelihood of future misfortune, including illness. The phenomenon shares a qualitative resemblance with anosognosia, a neurological disorder characterized by a deficient appreciation of manifest current illness or impairment. Unrealistic optimism and anosognosia have been independently associated with a region of right inferior frontal gyrus, the pars opercularis. Moreover, anosognosia is temporarily abolished by vestibular stimulation, particularly by irrigation of the left (but not right) ear with cold water, a procedure known to activate the right inferior frontal region. We therefore hypothesized that left caloric stimulation would attenuate unrealistic optimism in healthy participants. METHODS: Thirty-one healthy right-handed adults underwent cold-water caloric vestibular stimulation of both ears in succession. During each stimulation episode, and at baseline, participants estimated their own relative risk of contracting a series of illnesses in the future. RESULTS: Compared to baseline, average risk estimates were significantly higher during left-ear stimulation, whereas they remained unchanged during right-ear stimulation. Unrealistic optimism was thus reduced selectively during cold caloric stimulation of the left ear. CONCLUSIONS: Our results point to a unitary mechanism underlying both anosognosia and unrealistic optimism, and suggest that unrealistic optimism is a form of subclinical anosognosia for prospective symptoms.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Unrealistic optimism refers to the pervasive tendency of healthy individuals to underestimate their likelihood of future misfortune, including illness. The phenomenon shares a qualitative resemblance with anosognosia, a neurological disorder characterized by a deficient appreciation of manifest current illness or impairment. Unrealistic optimism and anosognosia have been independently associated with a region of right inferior frontal gyrus, the pars opercularis. Moreover, anosognosia is temporarily abolished by vestibular stimulation, particularly by irrigation of the left (but not right) ear with cold water, a procedure known to activate the right inferior frontal region. We therefore hypothesized that left caloric stimulation would attenuate unrealistic optimism in healthy participants. METHODS: Thirty-one healthy right-handed adults underwent cold-water caloric vestibular stimulation of both ears in succession. During each stimulation episode, and at baseline, participants estimated their own relative risk of contracting a series of illnesses in the future. RESULTS: Compared to baseline, average risk estimates were significantly higher during left-ear stimulation, whereas they remained unchanged during right-ear stimulation. Unrealistic optimism was thus reduced selectively during cold caloric stimulation of the left ear. CONCLUSIONS: Our results point to a unitary mechanism underlying both anosognosia and unrealistic optimism, and suggest that unrealistic optimism is a form of subclinical anosognosia for prospective symptoms.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Neurology
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Otorhinolaryngology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Neuroscience Center Zurich
04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Integrative Human Physiology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:03 Jul 2013 14:48
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 21:34
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0010-9452
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2013.04.005
PubMed ID:23725596

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