The three-dimensional vestibulo-ocular reflex (3D VOR) ideally generates compensatory ocular rotations not only with a magnitude equal and opposite to the head rotation but also about an axis that is collinear with the head rotation axis. Vestibulo-ocular responses only partially fulfill this ideal behavior. Because animal studies have shown that vestibular stimulation about particular axes may lead to suboptimal compensatory responses, we investigated in healthy subjects the peaks and troughs in 3D VOR stabilization in terms of gain and alignment of the 3D vestibulo-ocular response. Six healthy upright sitting subjects underwent whole body small amplitude sinusoidal and constant acceleration transients delivered by a six-degree-of-freedom motion platform. Subjects were oscillated about the vertical axis and about axes in the horizontal plane varying between roll and pitch at increments of 22.5° in azimuth. Transients were delivered in yaw, roll, and pitch and in the vertical canal planes. Eye movements were recorded in with 3D search coils. Eye coil signals were converted to rotation vectors, from which we calculated gain and misalignment. During horizontal axis stimulation, systematic deviations were found. In the light, misalignment of the 3D VOR had a maximum misalignment at about 45°. These deviations in misalignment can be explained by vector summation of the eye rotation components with a low gain for torsion and high gain for vertical. In the dark and in response to transients, gain of all components had lower values. Misalignment in darkness and for transients had different peaks and troughs than in the light: its minimum was during pitch axis stimulation and its maximum during roll axis stimulation. We show that the relatively large misalignment for roll in darkness is due to a horizontal eye movement component that is only present in darkness. In combination with the relatively low torsion gain, this horizontal component has a relative large effect on the alignment of the eye rotation axis with respect to the head rotation axis.

3D eye movements, angular motion, retinal image stabilization, semicircular canals,
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Goumans, J, Houben, M.M.J, Dits, J, & van der Steen, J. (2010). Peaks and Troughs of Three-Dimensional Vestibulo-ocular Reflex in Humans. J A R O, 11(3), 383–393. doi:10.1007/s10162-010-0210-y