The vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) is classically associated with stabilizing the visual world on the retina by producing an eye movement of equal and opposite amplitude to the motion of the head. Here we have directly measured the efficacy of VOR pathways during voluntary combined eye-head gaze shifts by recording from individual vestibular neurons in monkeys whose heads were unrestrained. We found that the head-velocity signal carried by VOR pathways is reduced during gaze shifts in an amplitude-dependent manner, consistent with results from behavioral studies in humans and monkeys. Our data support the hypothesis that the VOR is not a hard-wired reflex, but rather a pathway that is modulated in a manner that depends on the current gaze strategy.
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