Acute adaptation of the vestibuloocular reflex: signal processing by floccular and ventral parafloccular Purkinje cells

J Neurophysiol. 2001 May;85(5):2267-88. doi: 10.1152/jn.2001.85.5.2267.


The gain of the vertical vestibuloocular reflex (VVOR), defined as eye velocity/head velocity was adapted in squirrel monkeys by employing visual-vestibular mismatch stimuli. VVOR gain, measured in the dark, could be trained to values between 0.4 and 1.5. Single-unit activity of vertical zone Purkinje cells was recorded from the flocculus and ventral paraflocculus in alert squirrel monkeys before and during the gain change training. Our goal was to evaluate the site(s) of learning of the gain change. To aid in the evaluation, a model of the vertical optokinetic reflex (VOKR) and VVOR was constructed consisting of floccular and nonfloccular systems divided into subsystems based on the known anatomy and input and output parameters. Three kinds of input to floccular Purkinje cells via mossy fibers were explicitly described, namely vestibular, visual (retinal slip), and efference copy of eye movement. The characteristics of each subsystem (gain and phase) were identified at different VOR gains by reconstructing single-unit activity of Purkinje cells during VOKR and VVOR with multiple linear regression models consisting of sensory input and motor output signals. Model adequacy was checked by evaluating the residual following the regressions and by predicting Purkinje cells' activity during visual-vestibular mismatch paradigms. As a result, parallel changes in identified characteristics with VVOR adaptation were found in the prefloccular/floccular subsystem that conveys vestibular signals and in the nonfloccular subsystem that conveys vestibular signals, while no change was found in other subsystems, namely prefloccular/floccular subsystems conveying efference copy or visual signals, nonfloccular subsystem conveying visual signals, and postfloccular subsystem transforming Purkinje cell activity to eye movements. The result suggests multiple sites for VVOR motor learning including both flocculus and nonflocculus pathways. The gain change in the nonfloccular vestibular subsystem was in the correct direction to cause VOR gain adaptation while the change in the prefloccular/floccular vestibular subsystem was incorrect (anti-compensatory). This apparent incorrect directional change might serve to prevent instability of the VOR caused by positive feedback via the efference copy pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Animals
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Feedback
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Normal Distribution
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology*
  • Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular / physiology*
  • Retina / physiology
  • Saimiri