Sound-evoked vestibulo-ocular reflexes (VOR) in trained monkeys

Exp Brain Res. 2004 May;156(2):129-34. doi: 10.1007/s00221-003-1778-9.


Acoustic stimulation of the vestibular system has been well documented in humans and has been accepted as a useful tool to diagnose vestibular disorders. The goal of this study was to establish an awake and behaving primate model that might be useful for investigating the neural mechanisms underlying acoustic activation of the vestibular system. We recorded sound-evoked eye movements in monkeys while they performed ocular motor tasks. In the first part of the study, an acoustic click (1 ms, 99 to approximately 125 db peak SPL) was delivered to one of the monkeys' ears while they fixated on visual targets of varying eccentricities and viewing distances. Acoustic clicks were found to evoke well-defined biphasic eye velocity responses. For the movement in the horizontal direction, the first eye velocity peaks were always away from the stimulated ear. For the movement in the vertical direction, however, the directions of the first eye velocity peaks varied from monkey to monkey. This variability was difficult to interpret in the absence of torsional measurement. Thus, our analysis in this report was focused on horizontal eye movements. We found that click-evoked eye movements were disjunctive, with larger first horizontal eye velocity peaks from the eye ipsilateral to the stimulated ear (the amplitude ratio was 1.8 +/- 0.3, n=4). The amplitudes of the first horizontal peaks were also linearly correlated with gaze eccentricity and viewing distance. In the second part of the study, we found that a brief tone-pulse (100 ms, 125 db peak SPL) evoked eye movements that exhibited a well-defined frequency tuning with the most effective stimulating frequencies ranging from 1 K to 1.5 KHz. These data demonstrate that the sound-evoked eye movements in behaving monkeys are well defined and reproducible. This paradigm may be useful for studying the neural mechanisms underlying acoustic activation of the vestibular system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods*
  • Animals
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular / physiology*