Inertial processing of vestibulo-ocular signals

Bernhard J.M. Hess, Dora E. Angelaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


New evidence for a central resolution of gravito-inertial signals has been recently obtained by analyzing the properties of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) in response to combined lateral translations and roll tilts of the head. It is found that the VOR generates robust compensatory horizontal eye movements independent of whether or not the interaural translatory acceleration component is canceled out by a gravitational acceleration component due to simultaneous roll-tilt. This response property of the VOR depends on functional semicircular canals, suggesting that the brain uses both otolith and semicircular canal signals to estimate head motion relative to inertial space. Vestibular information about dynamic head attitude relative to gravity is the basis for computing head (and body) angular velocity relative to inertial space. Available evidence suggests that the inertial vestibular system controls both head attitude and velocity with respect to a gravity-centered reference frame. The basic computational principles underlying the inertial processing of otolith and semicircular canal afferent signals are outlined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-161
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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