Angular velocity detection by head movements orthogonal to the plane of rotation

B. J.M. Hess, D. E. Angelaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sinusoidal oscillation of rhesus monkeys about a head-fixed, earth-horizontal axis while rotating at constant velocity about an earth-vertical axis generates a characteristic ocular nystagmus where the three-dimensional slow phase eye velocity is compensatory to the spatially and temporally changing head angular velocity vector. This includes the generation of a unidirectional nystagmus characterised by a "bias" slow phase velocity component, albeit of small gain (0.2-0.7), that persists for the duration of the combined two-axes stimulation and is compensatory to the constant velocity earth-vertical axis rotation. Specifically, there is a torsional bias velocity in supine position, a vertical bias velocity in ear down position and a horizontal bias velocity in upright position. Since the semicircular canals can not sense prolonged constant velocity rotation, the ocular bias velocity must be centrally constructed from canal afferent signals using head position information. Thus, optimal performance of the vestibular system as a three-dimensional rate sensor relies on afferent information from both the semicircular canals and the otolith organs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-83
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1993


  • Eye movements
  • Monkey
  • Otolith organs
  • Semicircular canals
  • Vestibular system
  • Vestibulo-ocular reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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