Contribution of vestibular commissural pathways to spatial orientation of the angular vestibuloocular reflex

Susan Wearne, Theodore Raphan, Bernard Cohen

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During nystagmus induced by the angular vestibuloocular reflex (aVOR), the axis of eye velocity tends to align with the direction of gravitoinertial acceleration (GIA), a process we term 'spatial orientation of the aVOR.' We studied spatial orientation of the aVOR in rhesus and cynomolgus monkeys before and after midline section of the rostral medulla abolished all oculomotor functions related to velocity storage, leaving the direct optokinetic and vestibular pathways intact. Optokinetic afternystagmus and the bias component of off-vertical-axis rotation were lost, and the aVOR time constant was reduced to a value commensurate with the time constants of primary semicircular canal afferents. Spatial orientation of the aVOR, induced either during optokinetic or vestibular stimulation, was also lost. Vertical and roll aVOR time constants could no longer be lengthened in side- down or supine/prone positions, and static and dynamic tilts of the GIA no longer produced cross-coupling from the yaw to pitch and yaw to roll axes. Consequently, the induced nystagmus remained entirely in head coordinates after the lesion, regardless of the direction of the resultant GIA vector. Gains of the aVOR and of optokinetic nystagmus to steps of, velocity were unaffected or slightly increased. These results are consistent with a model in which the direct aVOR pathways are organized in semicircular canal coordinates and spatial orientation is restricted to the indirect (velocity storage) pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1193-1197
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1997


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