Resolution of Sensory Ambiguities for Gaze Stabilization Requires a Second Neural Integrator

Andrea M. Green, Dora E. Angelaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability to simultaneously move in the world and maintain stable visual perception depends critically on the contribution of vestibulo-ocular reflexes (VORs) to gaze stabilization. It is traditionally believed that semicircular canal signals drive compensatory responses to rotational head disturbances (rotational VOR), whereas otolith signals compensate for translational movements [translational VOR (TVOR)]. However, a sensory ambiguity exists because otolith afferents are activated similarly during head translations and reorientations relative to gravity (i.e., tilts). Extra-otolith cues are, therefore, necessary to ensure that dynamic head tilts do not elicit a TVOR. To investigate how extra-otolith signals contribute, we characterized the temporal and viewing distance-dependent properties of a TVOR elicited in the absence of a lateral acceleration stimulus to the otoliths during combined translational/rotational motion. We show that, in addition to otolith signals, angular head position signals derived by integrating sensory canal information drive the TVOR. A physiological basis for these results is proposed in a model with two distinct integration steps. Upstream of the well known oculomotor velocity-to-position neural integrator, the model incorporates a separate integration element that could represent the "velocity storage integrator," whose functional role in the oculomotor system has so far remained controversial. We propose that a key functional purpose of the velocity storage network is to temporally integrate semicircular canal signals, so that they may be used to extract translation information from ambiguous otolith afferent signals in the natural and functionally relevant bandwidth of head movements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9265-9275
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number28
StatePublished - Oct 15 2003


  • Eye movement
  • Model
  • Oculomotor
  • Otolith
  • Sensorimotor
  • VOR
  • Velocity storage
  • Vestibular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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