Constant velocity rotations in darkness evoke vestibulo-ocular reflex in form of pre- and post-rotational nystagmus under cerebellar supervision. Reorientation of the head with respect to gravity, stimulating otolith and semicircular canal, during post-rotational phase rapidly suppresses the post-rotational nystagmus. We asked if pure otolith stimulation without semicircular canal signal is sufficient for the suppression of post-rotational nystagmus. The experimental paradigm comprised of on-axis rotations in the horizontal plane when the subject was sitting upright, followed by a novel stimulus that combined off-axis centrifugation in the horizontal plane with amplitude matched, yet out-of-phase, on-axis horizontal rotation—double centrifugation. The resultant effect of double centrifugation was pure otolith stimulation that constantly changed direction, yet completely canceled out angular velocity (no horizontal semicircular canal stimulation). Double centrifugation without pre-existing on-axis rotations evoked mixture of horizontal and vertical eye movements, latter reflected the known uncertainty of the vestibular system to differentiate whether the sensory signal is related to low-frequency translations in horizontal plane or head tilts relative to the gravity. Double centrifugation during post-rotational phase suppressed the peak slow phase eye velocity of the post-rotational nystagmus, hence affecting the vestibular ocular reflex gain (eye velocity/head velocity) matrix. The decay time constant, however, was unchanged. Amount of suppression of the peak slow phase eye velocity of the post-rotational nystagmus during double centrifugation correlated with the peak vertical eye velocity evoked by the pure otolith stimuli in the absence of pre-existing on axis rotations. In post-rotational phase, the pure otolith signal affects vestibular ocular reflex gain matrix but does not affect the time constant.
Vestibulo-ocular reflex Balance Cerebellum Vestibular Eye movement Gravity
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Authors thank Americo Migliaccio, PhD; David Zee, MD; and Dale Roberts, MS, for the collegial support.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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