Several prior studies, including those from this laboratory, have suggested that vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) adaptation and compensation are two neurologically related mechanisms. We therefore hypothesised that adaptation would be affected by compensation, depending on the amount of overlap between these two mechanisms. To better understand this overlap, we examined the effect of gain-increase (gain = eye velocity/head velocity) adaptation training on the VOR in compensated mice since both adaptation and compensation mechanisms are presumably driving the gain to increase. We tested 11 cba129 controls and 6 α9-knockout mice, which have a compromised efferent vestibular system (EVS) known to affect both adaptation and compensation mechanisms. Baseline VOR gains across frequencies (0.2 to 10 Hz) and velocities (20 to 100°/s) were measured on day 28 after unilateral labyrinthectomy (UL) and post-adaptation gains were measured after gain-increase training on day 31 post-UL. Our findings showed that after chronic compensation gain-increase adaptation, as a percentage of baseline, in both strains of mice (~14%), was about half compared to their previously reported healthy, non-operated counterparts (~32%). Surprisingly, there was no difference in gain-increase adaptation between control and α9-knockout mice. These data support the notion that adaptation and compensation are separate but overlapping processes. They also suggest that half of the original adaptation capacity remained in chronically compensated mice, regardless of EVS compromise associated with α9-knockout mice, and strongly suggest VOR adaptation training is a viable treatment strategy for vestibular rehabilitation therapy and, importantly, augments the compensatory process.
Keywords: Efferent vestibular system; Vestibular adaptation; Vestibular compensation; Vestibulo-ocular reflex; α9-knockout mice.
© 2022. The Author(s) under exclusive licence to Association for Research in Otolaryngology.