Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurophysiol. 2011 Apr;105(4):1689-700. doi: 10.1152/jn.00981.2010. Epub 2011 Feb 9.

State-dependent sensorimotor processing: gaze and posture stability during simulated flight in birds.

Author information

Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Vestibular responses play an important role in maintaining gaze and posture stability during rotational motion. Previous studies suggest that these responses are state dependent, their expression varying with the environmental and locomotor conditions of the animal. In this study, we simulated an ethologically relevant state in the laboratory to study state-dependent vestibular responses in birds. We used frontal airflow to simulate gliding flight and measured pigeons' eye, head, and tail responses to rotational motion in darkness, under both head-fixed and head-free conditions. We show that both eye and head response gains are significantly higher during flight, thus enhancing gaze and head-in-space stability. We also characterize state-specific tail responses to pitch and roll rotation that would help to maintain body-in-space orientation during flight. These results demonstrate that vestibular sensorimotor processing is not fixed but depends instead on the animal's behavioral state.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center