Head-shaking nystagmus during vestibular compensation in humans and rhesus monkeys

Michael Fetter, David S. Zee, Eberhard Koenig, Johannes Dichgans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Nystagmus evoked after rapid horizontal head-shaking is believed to be a sensitive indication of the existence and location of a unilateral vestibular lesion. Its origin is the directional asymmetry in vestibular responses of the healthy labyrinth (Ewald's second law). For nystagmus to appear after the head has stopped moving, however, the direction-ally asymmetric responses must have been stored during the head-shaking to be discharged afterwards. Our results confirm the notion that head-shaking nystagmus is most likely generated by a directional preponderance in vestibular responses but only in combination with a functioning central velocity-storage mechanism. If velocity-storage is lost completely, as may occur during the acute phase of a unilateral peripheral vestibular lesion, even a large vestibular preponderance does not lead to head-shaking nystagmus. Thus, to interpret the results of the head-shaking test the condition of the velocity-storage mechanism must be taken into account.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-181
Number of pages7
JournalActa Oto-Laryngologica
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 1990


  • Ewald's second law
  • Unilateral labyrinthectomy
  • Unilateral vestibular hypofunction
  • Velocity storage mechanism
  • Vestibulo-ocular reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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