Unilateral vestibular lesions cause marked asymmetry in the horizontal vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) during rapid head rotations, with VOR gain being lower for head rotations toward the lesion than for rotations in the opposite direction. Reducing this gain asymmetry by enhancing ipsilesional responses would be an important step toward improving gaze stability following vestibular lesions. To that end, there were two goals in this study. First, we wanted to determine whether we could selectively increase VOR gain in only one rotational direction in normal monkeys by exposing them to a training session comprised of a 3-h series of rotations in only one direction (1,000°/s2 acceleration to a plateau of 150°/s for 1 s) while they wore 1.7× magnifying spectacles. Second, in monkeys with unilateral vestibular lesions, we designed a paradigm intended to reduce the gain asymmetry by rotating the monkeys toward the side of the lesion in the same way as above but without spectacles. There were three main findings (1) unidirectional rotations with magnifying spectacles result in gain asymmetry in normal monkeys, (2) gain asymmetry is reduced when animals are rotated towards the side of the labyrinthectomy via the ipsilesional rotation paradigm, and (3) repeated training causes lasting reduction in VOR gain asymmetry.
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