Signals and learning rules guiding oculomotor plasticity

J Neurosci. 2014 Aug 6;34(32):10635-44. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4510-12.2014.


The learning of motor skills is thought to occur largely through trial and error; however, the error signals and rules controlling the induction of motor learning have not been fully elucidated. We evaluated the learning rules that translate the sensory and motor cues available during training into learned changes in the gain and phase of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) of mice. Contrary to previous theories, neither the phase of retinal image motion relative to head motion nor the phase of retinal image motion relative to eye movement could consistently predict the direction of the learned change in the gain of the VOR across all training conditions tested. Instead, the phase of the gaze movement relative to head motion during training was the best predictor of whether learning would increase or decrease the gain of the VOR. Learned changes in the phase of the VOR were best predicted by a different cue--the phase of the eye movement relative to head motion during training. These results provide new constraints on the neural mechanisms implementing the adaptive calibration of the VOR by cerebellum-dependent motor learning.

Keywords: VOR; cerebellum; eye movements; instructive signal; mice; motor learning; vestibular.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Signal Detection, Psychological / physiology*