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J Neurophysiol. 2005 Jun;93(6):3693-8. Epub 2005 Feb 2.

Spatial distribution of gravity-dependent gain changes in the vestibuloocular reflex.

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Dept. of Neurology, Box 1135, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, 1 E. 100th St., New York, NY 10029, USA.


This study determined whether dependence of angular vestibuloocular reflex (aVOR) gain adaptation on gravity is a fundamental property in three dimensions. Horizontal aVOR gains were adaptively increased or decreased in two cynomolgus monkeys in upright, side down, prone, and supine positions, and aVOR gains were tested in darkness by yaw rotation with the head in a wide variety of orientations. Horizontal aVOR gain changes peaked at the head position in which the adaptation took place and gradually decreased as the head moved away from this position in any direction. The gain changes were plotted as a function of head tilt and fit with a sinusoid plus a bias to obtain the gravity-dependent (amplitude) and gravity-independent (bias) components. Peak-to-peak gravity-dependent gain changes in planes containing the position of adaptation and the magnitude of the gravity-independent components were both approximately 25%. We assumed that gain changes over three-dimensional space could be described by a sinusoid the amplitude of which also varied sinusoidally. Using gain changes obtained from the head position in which the gains were adapted, a three-dimensional surface was generated that was qualitatively similar to a surface obtained from the experimental data. This extends previous findings on vertical aVOR gain adaptation in one plane and introduces a conceptual framework for understanding plasticity in three dimensions: aVOR gain changes are composed of two components, one of which depends on head position relative to gravity. It is likely that this gravitational dependence optimizes the stability of retinal images during movement in three-dimensional space.

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