The gain of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) normally depends on the distance between the subject and the visual target, but it remains uncertain whether vergence angle can be linked to changes in VOR gain through a process of context-dependent adaptation. In this study, we examined this question with an adaptation paradigm that modified the normal relationship between vergence angle and retinal image motion. Subjects were rotated sinusoidally while they viewed an optokinetic (OKN) stimulus through either diverging or converging prisms. In three subjects the diverging prisms were worn while the OKN stimulus moved out of phase with the head, and the converging prisms were worn when the OKN stimulus moved in-phase with the head. The relationship between the vergence angle and OKN stimulus was reversed in the fourth subject. After 2 h of training, the VOR gain at the two vergence angles changed significantly in all of the subjects, evidenced by the two different VOR gains that could be immediately accessed by switching between the diverged and converged conditions. The results demonstrate that subjects can learn to use vergence angle as the contextual cue that retrieves adaptive changes in the angular VOR.
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