The neck-eye reflex in patients with reduced vestibular and optokinetic function

Brain. 1991 Feb;114 ( Pt 1A):1-11.


It is accepted that the neck-eye loop (cervico-ocular reflex, COR) is enhanced following loss of vestibular function and that this helps to restore gaze stability during head movements. In this paper we address the question of which structures and/or mechanisms may participate in such plastic enhancement by investigating the COR in 2 patients with absent vestibular function and reduced smooth pursuit-optokinetic eye movements (SP-OKN). The patients had multisystem atrophy involving the vestibular system and the cerebellum. The COR (elicited by angular motion of the trunk relative to the fixed head and angular motion of the head relative to the fixed trunk) was not enhanced in these 2 patients when compared with normal subjects, in contrast to previous findings in a group of patients with absent vestibular function alone. Measurements of slow phase eye movement velocity during SP-OKN stimuli and during combined COR-OKN stimulation (head oscillation relative to the stationary trunk in the light) showed identical values in these two conditions, which indicates that the neck-eye loop did not contribute to gaze stability during head movements. The absence of plastic enhancement of the COR in these patients may be secondary to interruption of SP-OKN pathways at various possible sites and/or to involvement of the vestibulocerebellum, which is known to mediate adaptive plasticity in the vestibulo-ocular reflex.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Darkness
  • Eye Movements*
  • Head
  • Humans
  • Light
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement
  • Neck
  • Nystagmus, Pathologic*
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Vestibular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Vestibular Function Tests*