Simultaneous and opposing horizontal VOR adaptation in humans suggests functionally independent neural circuits

Yoav Gimmon, Americo A. Migliaccio, Christopher J. Todd, William V.C. Figtree, Michael C. Schubert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The healthy vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) ensures that images remain on the fovea of the retina during head rotation to maintain stable vision. VOR behavior can be measured as a summation of linear and nonlinear properties although it is unknown whether asymmetric VOR adaptation can be performed synchronously in humans. The purpose of the present study is twofold. First, examine whether the right and left VOR gains can be synchronously adapted in opposing directions. Second, to investigate whether the adaptation context transfers between both sides. Three separate VOR adaptation sessions were randomized such that the VOR was adapted Up-bilaterally, Down-bilaterally, or Mixed (one side up, opposite side down). Ten healthy subjects completed the study. Subjects were tested while seated upright, 1 meter in front of a wall in complete dark. Each subject made active (self-generated) head impulse rotations for 15 min while viewing a gradually increasing amount of retinal slip. VOR training demand changed by 10% every 90 s. The VOR changed significantly for all training conditions. No significant differences in the magnitude of VOR gain changes between training conditions were found. The human VOR can be simultaneously driven in opposite directions. The similar magnitude of VOR gain changes across training conditions suggests functionally independent VOR circuits for each side of head rotation that mediate simultaneous and opposing VOR adaptations. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Our results indicate that humans have the adaptive capacity for concurrent and opposing directions of vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) motor learning. Context specificity of VOR adaptation is dependent on the error signal being unilateral or bilateral, which we illustrate via a lack of VOR gain transfer using unique adaptive demands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1496-1504
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 the American Physiological Society.


  • Asymmetry
  • Motor learning
  • VOR adaptation
  • Vestibular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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