Short-term vestibulo-ocular reflex adaptation in humans - II. Error signals

Mark Shelhamer, Caroline Tiliket, Dale Roberts, Phillip D. Kramer, David S. Zee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We oscillated humans sinusoidally at 0.2 Hz for 1 h, using various combinations of rotations of the head and visual surround to elicit short-term adaptation of the gain of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR). Before and after each period of training, the gain of the VOR was measured in darkness, in response to a position step of head rotation. A small foveal target served as well as a full-field stimulus at driving VOR adaptation. Oscillation of the visual surround alone produced a substantial increase in the VOR gain. When the visual scene was rotated in phase with the head but with a larger amplitude to produce a reversal of the VOR, the VOR gain increased if the movement of the visual scene was much greater than that of the head, otherwise the gain decreased. We interpreted these results with a model of VOR adaptation that uses as its "error signal" the combination of motion of images on the retina (retinal slip) and any additional slow-phase eye velocity, beyond that generated by the VOR through the vestibular nuclei, necessary to prevent such retinal slip during head rotation. The slow phase velocity generated by the VOR is derived from "inferred head rotation", a signal based on the discharge of neurons in the vestibular nuclei that receive both labyrinthine and visual (optokinetic) inputs. The amplitude and sign of the ratio of the "error signal" to "inferred head velocity" determine the amplitude and the direction (increase or decrease) of VOR gain adaptation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-336
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1994


  • Adaptation
  • Human
  • Retinal slip
  • VOR
  • Visual-vestibular conflict

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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