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Exp Brain Res. 2003 Sep;152(2):150-5. Epub 2003 Jul 16.

Torsional and horizontal vestibular ocular reflex adaptation: three-dimensional eye movement analysis.

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Neurology Department, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


This study used visual-vestibular conflict to effect short-term torsional and horizontal adaptation of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR). Seven normal subjects underwent sinusoidal whole-body rotation about the earth-vertical axis for 40 min (+/- 37 degrees/s, 0.3 Hz) while viewing a stationary radial pattern fixed to the chair (x0 viewing). During adaptation and testing in darkness, the head was pitched either up or down 35 degrees to excite both the horizontal and torsional VOR. The eyes were kept close to zero orbital elevation. Eye movements were recorded with a dual search coil in a three-field magnetic system. VOR gain was determined by averaging peak eye velocity from ten cycles of chair oscillation in complete darkness. The gain of the angular horizontal VOR (response to rotation about the head rostral-caudal axis) was significantly reduced after training in both head orientations. Angular torsional VOR gain (head rotation about the naso-occipital axis) was reduced in both head orientations, but this reached statistical significance only in the head down position. These results suggest that torsional and horizontal VOR gain adaptation, even when elicited together, may be subject to different influences depending upon head orientation. Differences between head up and down could be due to the relatively greater contribution of the horizontal semicircular canals with nose-down pitch. Alternatively, different VOR-adaptation processes could depend on the usual association of the head down posture to near viewing, in which case the torsional VOR is relatively suppressed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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