During linear accelerations, compensatory reflexes should continually occur in order to maintain objects of visual interest as stable images on the retina. In the present study, the three-dimensional organization of the vestibule-ocular reflex in pigeons was quantitatively examined during linear accelerations produced by constant velocity off-vertical axis yaw rotations and translational motion in darkness. With off-vertical axis rotations, sinusoidally modulated eye-position and velocity responses were observed in all three components, with the vertical and torsional eye movements predominating the response. Peak torsional and vertical eye positions occurred when the head was oriented with the lateral visual axis of the right eye directed orthogonal to or aligned with the gravity vector, respectively. No steady-state horizontal nystagmus was obtained with any of the rotational velocities (8-58°/s) tested. During translational motion, delivered along or perpendicular to the lateral visual axis, vertical and torsional eye movements were elicited. No significant horizontal eye movements were observed during lateral translation at frequencies up to 3 Hz. These responses suggest that, in pigeons, all linear accelerations generate eye movements that are compensatory to the direction of actual or perceived tilt of the head relative to gravity. In contrast, no translational horizontal eye movements, which are known to be compensatory to lateral translational motion in primates, were observed under the present experimental conditions.
- Vestibule-ocular reflex
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