Vestibulo-ocular reflex

Curr Opin Neurol. 1995 Feb;8(1):83-8. doi: 10.1097/00019052-199502000-00014.


Recent animal and clinical studies on the vestibulo-ocular reflex deal with a number of physiological and clinical aspects from which three were chosen for this review: (1) the torsional vestibulo-ocular reflex and its disorders; (2) the otolith contribution to the vestibulo-ocular reflex; and (3) neurotransmitters, neuropharmacological aspects, and medical treatment. Disorders of the vestibulo-ocular reflex can be classified according to the three major planes of action, yaw plane, pitch plane, and roll plane, which equate with horizontal nystagmus, upbeat or downbeat nystagmus, and torsional nystagmus, respectively. The particular interest in the torsional vestibulo-ocular reflex arises from new methods for measuring ocular torsion, especially the three-dimensional eye-movement recordings with scleral coils. These methods make it possible to do three-dimensional analysis of the differential effects of horizontal and vertical semicircular canal function and their individual disorders of the torsional vestibulo-ocular reflex. Otolith and semicircular canal inputs converge at the level of the vestibular nuclei to subserve static graviceptive and dynamic torsional and pitch function. The elaboration of the particular sensorial weight of the input from either the otoliths or the semicircular canal is currently a challenge for both physiologists and neurologists. Disorders of otolith function, still absent from the diagnostic repertoire of most neurologists, are increasingly being reported. The most promising developments in therapeutic measures may come from research on vestibular neurotransmitters, their agonists and antagonists. A number of pharmacological agents are effective suppressants of pathological eye movements. However, systematic prospective studies are needed.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eye Movements / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / pharmacology
  • Ocular Motility Disorders / drug therapy
  • Ocular Motility Disorders / physiopathology
  • Otolithic Membrane / physiology
  • Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular / physiology*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents