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Science. 1988 Nov 4;242(4879):771-3.

Brain stem neurons in modified pathways for motor learning in the primate vestibulo-ocular reflex.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of California, San Francisco 94143.


The vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) stabilizes retinal images by generating smooth eye movements that are equal in amplitude and opposite in direction to head turns. Whenever image motion occurs persistently during head turns, the VOR undergoes motor learning; as a result image stability is gradually restored. A group of brain stem neurons that are in the modified pathways has now been described. The neurons express changes in firing in association with motor learning in the VOR and receive monosynaptic inhibition from the flocculus of the cerebellum. The changes in firing have an appropriate magnitude and are expressed at the correct latency to account for the altered VOR. The response properties of the neurons point to their brain stem vestibular inputs for further investigation of the site of motor learning.

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