Kinematics of the rotational vestibuloocular reflex: role of the cerebellum

J Neurophysiol. 2007 Jul;98(1):295-302. doi: 10.1152/jn.00215.2007. Epub 2007 May 23.


We studied the effect of cerebellar lesions on the 3-D control of the rotational vestibuloocular reflex (RVOR) to abrupt yaw-axis head rotation. Using search coils, three-dimensional (3-D) eye movements were recorded from nine patients with cerebellar disease and seven normal subjects during brief chair rotations (200 degrees /s(2) to 40 degrees /s) and manual head impulses. We determined the amount of eye-position dependent torsion during yaw-axis rotation by calculating the torsional-horizontal eye-velocity axis for each of three vertical eye positions (0 degrees , +/-15 degrees ) and performing a linear regression to determine the relationship of the 3-D velocity axis to vertical eye position. The slope of this regression is the tilt angle slope. Overall, cerebellar patients showed a clear increase in the tilt angle slope for both chair rotations and head impulses. For chair rotations, the effect was not seen at the onset of head rotation when both patients and normal subjects had nearly head-fixed responses (no eye-position-dependent torsion). Over time, however, both groups showed an increasing tilt-angle slope but to a much greater degree in cerebellar patients. Two important conclusions emerge from these findings: the axis of eye rotation at the onset of head rotation is set to a value close to head-fixed (i.e., optimal for gaze stabilization during head rotation), independent of the cerebellum and once the head rotation is in progress, the cerebellum plays a crucial role in keeping the axis of eye rotation about halfway between head-fixed and that required for Listing's Law to be obeyed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cerebellar Diseases / pathology
  • Cerebellar Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Head Movements / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular / physiology*
  • Rotation*
  • Torsion Abnormality