The human sound-evoked vestibulo-ocular reflex and its electromyographic correlate

Miriam S. Welgampola, Americo A. Migliaccio, Oluwaseun A. Myrie, Lloyd B. Minor, John P. Carey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Objective: Sound and vibration evoke a short-latency eye movement or "sound-evoked vestibulo-ocular reflex" (VOR) and an infraorbital surface potential: the "ocular vestibular-evoked myogenic potential" (OVEMP). We examined their relationship by measuring the modulation of both responses by gaze and stimulus parameters. Methods: In seven subjects with superior semicircular-canal dehiscence (SCD) and six controls, the sound-evoked VOR was measured in 3D using scleral search coils. OVEMPs were recorded simultaneously, using surface electromyography. Results: Eye movement onset (11.6 ± 0.8 ms) coincided with the OVEMP peak (12.1 ± 0.35 ms). OVEMP and VOR magnitudes were 5-15 times larger in SCD compared with controls. OVEMP amplitudes were maximal on upgaze and abolished on downgaze; VOR magnitudes were unaffected. When stimulus type was changed from sound to vibration, OVEMP and VOR changed concordantly: increasing in controls and decreasing in SCD. OVEMP and VOR tuned to identical stimulus frequencies. OVEMP and VOR magnitudes on upgaze were significantly correlated (R = 0.83-0.97). Conclusion: Selective decrease of the OVEMP upon downgaze is consistent with relaxation or retraction of the inferior oblique muscles. The temporal relationship of OVEMP and VOR and their identical modulation by external factors confirms a common origin. Significance: Sound-evoked OVEMP and VOR represent the electrical and mechanical correlates of the same vestibulo-ocular response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-166
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Sound
  • VEMP
  • Vestibulo-ocular reflex
  • Vibration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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