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Clinical Trial
. 2005 Oct;94(4):2391-402.
doi: 10.1152/jn.01328.2004. Epub 2005 May 18.

Interaural Translational VOR: Suppression, Enhancement, and Cognitive Control

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Clinical Trial

Interaural Translational VOR: Suppression, Enhancement, and Cognitive Control

Stefano Ramat et al. J Neurophysiol. .
Free article


We investigated the influence of cognitive factors on the early response of the interaural translational vestibuloocular reflex (tVOR) in six normal subjects. Variables were prior knowledge of direction of head motion and the position of the fixation target relative to the head [head-fixed (HF) or space-fixed (SF)]. A manually driven device provided a step-like head translation (approximately 35 mm distance, peak acceleration, 0.6-1.3 g). Subjects looked at the SF or HF target located 15 cm in front of their heads in otherwise complete darkness. The testing paradigms were: random interleaving of SF and HF targets with unknown direction of head movement, known target location with random head direction (SFR or HFR), and known target location with known head direction (SFP or HFP). Timing was always unpredictable. A "gain" of the slow phase was calculated with respect to ideal performance (maintained fixation of the SF target, recorded/ideal eye velocity computed at time of peak head velocity). At such times, there were no significant differences in gain between HF and SF trials in the random condition; the average gain was approximately 36% of ideal. On the other hand, responses in the SFR and HFR conditions differed as early as 20 ms after the head began moving. Average gain was higher (0.43 +/- 0.11 vs. 0.34 +/- 0.14; means +/- SD, P < 0.05) for each subject in the SFR than the HFR condition. For SFP and HFP, the responses differed from the onset of head motion. Average slow-phase gain was higher (0.49 +/- 0.12 vs. 0.31 +/- 0.12, P < 0.02) for each subject in SFP than in HFP. The timing of corrective saccades during the tVOR was also influenced by cognitive factors. Visual error signals seemed to be more important for triggering saccades in HF trials, whereas preprogramming, probably based on labyrinthine information, seemed to be more important in SF trials. Simulations showed that the changes in slow-phase gain with cognition could be reproduced with simple parametric adjustments of the gain of activity from otolith afferents and suggest that higher-level cognitive control of the VOR could occur as early as the synapse of peripheral afferents on neurons in the vestibular nuclei, either directly from higher level centers or via the cerebellum. In sum, the tVOR-both in its slow-phase response and the saccadic corrections-is subject to "higher-level" cognitive influences including knowledge of where the line of sight must point during head motion and the impending direction of head motion.

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