The effects of passive displacements to the head delivered by an abrupt push to the upper body were studied in human subjects during gaze shifts to nearby targets while the head was completely unrestrained. Accurate measurements of gaze were obtained via the Maryland Revolving Field Monitor, used to measure head and eye rotations unconfounded with translations, and by an acoustic ranging system, used to measure head translations. Compensation for head perturbations was quite good, with gaze errors much the same as gaze errors in the absence of the push. Compensation along one or both meridians was achieved by means of the vestibulo-ocular response in many of the gaze shifts. The results suggest an impressive ability to coordinate head and eye movements during natural gaze shifts, carried out by one or more different kinds of compensatory systems that the subject can access at will or according to task demands.

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Journal of Vestibular Research
Department of Neuroscience

Epelboim, J., Kowler, E., Steinman, R., Collewijn, H., Erkelens, D. W., & Pizlol, Z. (1995). When push comes to shove: Compensation for passive perturbations of the head during natural gaze shifts. Journal of Vestibular Research, 5(6), 421–442. doi:10.1016/0957-4271(95)00021-7