Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

On the role of vestibulo-ocular reflex plasticity in recovery after unilateral peripheral vestibular lesions

  • 37 Accesses

  • 12 Citations


Although adaptive plasticity is a wellknown feature of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR), deficits in VOR performance after unilateral labyrinthectomy are poorly compensated in a large percentage of cats. To assess whether VOR plastic capabilities are affected by labyrinthectomy, forced oscillation in front of a patterned surround was imposed in unilaterally labyrinthectomized cats. This experimental paradigm has been shown to be very effective in inducing adaptive VOR gain changes in intact animals. We demonstrate that plasticity of VOR gain is still present both in acute and chronic stages following vestibular lesions. By contrast, forced oscillation did not significantly alter the lesion-induced asymmetry of responses. We conclude that VOR gain control mechanisms are not used to their fullest possible extent in a large percentage of animals suffering unilateral vestibular damage.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Baarsma EA, Collewijn H (1974) Vestibulo-ocular and optokinetic reactions to rotation and their interaction in the rabbit. J Physiol 238: 603–625

  2. Baarsma EA, Collewijn H (1975) Changes in compensatory eye movements after unilateral labyrinthectomy in the rabbit. Arch Otorhinolaryngol 211: 219–230

  3. Baloh RW, Yee RD, Kimm J, Honrubia V (1981) Vestibular-ocular reflex in patients with lesions involving the vestibulocerebellum. Exp Neurol 72: 141–152

  4. Barmack NH (1981) A comparison of the horizontal and vertical vestibulo-ocular reflexes of the rabbit. J Physiol 314: 547–564

  5. Batini C, Ito M, Kado RT, Jastreboff PJ, Miyashita Y (1979) Interaction between the horizontal vestibulo-ocular reflex and optokinetic response in rabbits. Exp Brain Res 37: 1–15

  6. Benson AJ (1970) Interactions between semicircular canals and gravireceptors. In: Douglas EB (ed) Recent advances in aerospace medicine. Reidel Publishing Company, Amsterdam, pp 249–261

  7. Bles W, De Jong JMBV, De Wit G (1984) Somatosensory compensation for loss of labyrinthine function. Acta Otolaryngol 97: 213–221

  8. Cawthrone T (1944) The physiological basis for head exercises. J Chart Soc Physiother 106–107

  9. Collewijn H, Grootendorst AF (1979) Adaptation of optokinetic and vestibulo-ocular reflexes to modified visual input in the rabbit. In: Granit R, Pompeiano O (eds) Reflex control of posture and movement. Progress in Brain Research, Vol 50. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 772–781

  10. Cooksey FS (1946) Rehabilitation in vestibular injuries. Proc R Soc Med 39: 273–275

  11. Dichgans J, Bizzi E, Morasso P, Tagliasco V (1973) Mechanisms underlying recovery of eye-head coordination following bilateral labyrinthectomy in monkeys. Exp Brain Res 18: 548–562

  12. Godaux E, Halleux J, Gobert C (1983) Adaptive change of the vestibulo-ocular reflex in the cat: the effects of a long-term frequency-selective procedure. Exp Brain Res 49: 28–34

  13. Ito M, Jastreboff PJ, Miyashita Y (1979) Adaptive modification of the rabbit's horizontal vestibulo-ocular reflex during sustained vestibular and optokinetic stimulation. Exp Brain Res 37: 17–30

  14. Jäger J, Henn V (1981) Habituation of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) in the monkey during sinusoidal rotation in the dark. Exp Brain Res 41: 108–114

  15. Kasai T, Zee DS (1978) Eye-head coordination in labyrinthine-defective human beings. Brain Res 144: 123–141

  16. Lacour M, Xerri C (1981) Vestibular compensation: new perspectives. In: Flohr H, Precht W (eds) Lesion-induced neuronal plasticity in sensorimotor systems. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 240–253

  17. Lisberger SG, Miles FA, Optican LM (1983) Frequency-selective adaptation: evidence for channels in the vestibulo-ocular reflex. J Neurosci 3: 1234–1244

  18. Maioli C, Precht W, Ried S (1982) Vestibuloocular and optokinetic reflex compensation following hemilabyrinthectomy in the cat. In: Roucoux A, Crommelinck M (eds) Physiological and pathological aspects of eye movements. W Junk Publ, The Hague Boston London, pp 202–208

  19. Maioli C, Precht W, Ried S (1983) Short- and long-term modifications of vestibulo-ocular response dynamics following unilateral vestibular nerve lesions in the cat. Exp Brain Res 50: 259–274

  20. Maioli C, Precht W (1984) The horizontal optokinetic nystagmus in the cat. Exp Brain Res 55: 494–506

  21. Miles FA, Lisberger SG (1981) Plasticity in the vestibulo-ocular reflex: a new hypothesis. Ann Rev Neurosci 4: 273–299

  22. Precht W, Maioli C, Dieringer N, Cochran S (1981) Mechanisms of compensation of the vestibulo-ocular reflex after vestibular neurotomy. In: Flohr H, Precht W (eds) Lesion-induced neuronal plasticity in sensorimotor systems. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, pp 221–230

  23. Ried S, Maioli C, Precht W (1984) Vestibular nuclear neuron activity in chronically hemilabyrinthectomized cats. Acta Otolaryngol 98: 1–13

  24. Robinson DA (1976) Adaptive gain control of Vestibuloocular reflex by the cerebellum. J Neurophysiol 39: 954–969

  25. Wolfe JW, Kos CM (1977) Nystagmic responses of the rhesus monkey to rotational stimulation following unilateral labyrinthectomy: final report. Trans Am Acad Ophthalmol Otolaryngol 84: 38–45

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to C. Maioli.

Additional information

Supported by grants nos. 3.228.82 and 3.403.83 from the Swiss National Science Foundation and Dr. Erik Slack-Gyr Foundation

Prof. Precht died on March 12, 1985

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Maioli, C., Precht, W. On the role of vestibulo-ocular reflex plasticity in recovery after unilateral peripheral vestibular lesions. Exp Brain Res 59, 267–272 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00230906

Download citation

Key words

  • Vestibuloocular reflex
  • Labyrinthectomy
  • Plasticity