Interaction between otolith organ and semicircular canal vestibulo-ocular reflexes during eccentric rotation in humans

Claire C. Gianna-Poulin, Robert J. Peterka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Controversy remains about the linearity of the interaction between horizontal semicircular canal and otolith organ vestibulo-ocular reflexes (VORs) in the generation of horizontal eye movements during head movements including both rotational and translational components. We used three eccentric rotation techniques to investigate this interaction in human subjects: (1) the tangential interaural acceleration was varied using three head positions (on-axis, 25 and 40 cm ahead of the rotational axis), while angular head velocity remained unchanged; (2) the magnitude of the angular head velocity was varied with head eccentricity to keep the tangential interaural acceleration unchanged; (3) the subject's head was oriented either upright or 90° forward from upright (nose-down). Experiments were performed in complete darkness with the subjects remembering a close earth-fixed target (20 cm distant) while being rotated at 1.2 and 1.8 Hz. Our data showed that the translational component of the VOR evoked during eccentric yaw rotation increased proportionally with an increase in head eccentricity, i.e. with tangential acceleration. We also found that the translational component of the VOR was equal for motion stimuli producing identical interaural tangential accelerations even when angular velocities differed. In addition, we found that the translational component of the VOR evoked during head upright eccentric rotation was equal to the translational VOR evoked during nose-down rotation for a given stimulus and head eccentricity. We conclude that these three findings are in agreement with what would be expected from a linear interaction (i.e. algebraic summation) between otolith organ and horizontal canal VORs for the generation of horizontal compensatory eye movements during head motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-495
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2008



  • Eccentric rotation
  • Human
  • Otolith organs
  • Semicircular canals
  • Vestibulo-ocular reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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