Interaction of linear and angular vestibulo-ocular reflexes of human subjects in response to transient motion

Exp Brain Res. 1996 Aug;110(3):465-72. doi: 10.1007/BF00229146.


The possibility of synergistic interaction between the canal and otolith components of the horizontal vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) was evaluated in human subjects by subtracting the response to pure angular rotation (AVOR) from the response to combined angular and translational motion (ALVOR) and comparing this difference with the VOR to isolated linear motion (LVOR). Assessments were made with target fixation at 60 cm and in darkness. Linear stimuli were acceleration steps attaining 0.25 g in less than 80 ms. To elicit responses to combined translational and angular head movements, the subjects were seated on a Barany chair with the head displaced forwards 40 cm from the axis of rotation. The chair was accelerated at approximately 300 deg/s2 to 127 deg/s peak angular velocity, the tangential acceleration of the head being comparable with that of isolated translation. Estimates of the contribution of smooth pursuit to responses in the light were made from comparisons of isolated pursuit of similar target trajectories. In the dark the slow phase eye movements evoked by combined canal-otolith stimuli were higher in magnitude by approximately a third than the sum of those produced by translation and rotation alone. In the light, the relative target displacement during isolated linear motion was similar to the difference in relative target displacements during eccentric and centred rotation. However, the gain of the translational component of compensatory eye movement during combined translational and angular motion was approximately unity, in contrast to the gain of the response to isolated linear motion, which was approximately a half. Pursuit performance was always poorer than target following during self-motion. The LVOR responses in the light were greater than the sum of the LVOR responses in the dark with pursuit eye movements. We conclude that, in response to transient motion, there is a synergistic enhancement of the translational VOR with concurrent canal stimulation and that the enhancement of the LVOR in the light is not due solely to pursuit.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Electrooculography
  • Head Movements / physiology
  • Humans
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Pursuit, Smooth / physiology*
  • Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular / physiology*
  • Rotation