Differential sensorimotor processing of vestibulo-ocular signals during rotation and translation

Dora E. Angelaki, Andrea M. Green, J. David Dickman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rotational and translational vestibulo-ocular reflexes (RVOR and TrVOR) function to maintain stable binocular fixation during head movements. Despite similar functional roles, differences in behavioral, neuroanatomical, and sensory afferent properties suggest that the sensorimotor processing may be partially distinct for the RVOR and TrVOR. To investigate the currently poorly understood neural correlates for the TrVOR, the activities of eye movement-sensitive neurons in the rostral vestibular nuclei were examined during pure translation and rotation under both stable gaze and suppression conditions. Two main conclusions were made. First, the 0.5 Hz firing rates of cells that carry both sensory head movement and motor-like signals during rotation were more strongly related to the oculomotor output than to the vestibular sensory signal during translation. Second, neurons the firing rates of which increased for ipsilaterally versus contralaterally directed eye movements (eye-ipsi and eye-contra cells, respectively) exhibited distinct dynamic properties during TrVOR suppression. Eye-ipsi neurons demonstrated relatively flat dynamics that was similar to that of the majority of vestibular-only neurons. In contrast, eye-contra cells were characterized by low-pass filter dynamics relative to linear acceleration and lower sensitivities than eye-ipsi cells. In fact, the main secondary eye-contra neuron in the disynaptic RVOR pathways (position-vestibular-pause cell) that exhibits a robust modulation during RVOR suppression did not modulate during TrVOR suppression. To explain these results, a simple model is proposed that is consistent with the known neuroanatomy and postulates differential projections of sensory canal and otolith signals onto eye-contra and eye-ipsi cells, respectively, within a shared premotor circuitry that generates the VORs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3968-3985
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2001


  • Binocular
  • Eye movement
  • Modeling
  • Otolith organs
  • Sensorimotor
  • Vestibular
  • Vestibulo-ocular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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