Loss of vestibular function causes severe acute symptoms of dizziness and disorientation, yet the brain can adapt and regain near to normal locomotor and orientation function through sensory substitution. Animal studies quantifying functional recovery have yet been limited to reflexive eye movements. Here, we studied the in-terplay between vestibular and proprioceptive graviception in macaque monkeys trained in an earth-vertical visual orientation (subjective visual vertical; SVV) task and measured the time course of sensory substitution for gravity perception following complete bilateral vestibular loss (BVL). Graviceptive gain, defined as the ratio of perceived versus actual tilt angle, decreased to 20% immediately following labyrinthectomy, and recovered to nearly prelesion levels with a time constant of approximately three weeks of postsurgery testing. We con-clude that proprioception accounts for up to 20% of gravity sensing in normal animals, and is re-weighted to substitute completely perceptual graviception after vestibular loss. We show that these results can be ac-counted for by an optimal sensory fusion model.
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