Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 204, Issue 9–10, pp 835–847 | Cite as

Vestibular-related eye movements in the rat following selective electrical stimulation of the vestibular sensors

  • Martin Hitier
  • Go Sato
  • Yan-Feng Zhang
  • Yiwen Zheng
  • Stephane Besnard
  • Paul F. SmithEmail author
Original Paper


Rats are the most commonly used species in the neurosciences; however, little is known about the effects of selective electrical stimulation of individual vestibular sensors, on their eye movements. This limits their use to study the effects of vestibular stimulation on the brain, and their use in further exploring novel technologies such as artificial vestibular implants. We describe the effects of electrical stimulation of each vestibular sensor on vestibular-related eye movement in rats and compared the results to other species. We demonstrated that each sensor is responsible for specific bilateral eye movements. We found that the eye movements in rats differed from other species. Although the results were similar when stimulating the horizontal canal ampulla, differences appeared when stimulating the vertical canal sensors. During utricular stimulation, the ipsilateral eye moved dorsally in most cases, while the contralateral eye usually moved either caudally, or in extorsion. Saccular stimulation usually moved the ipsilateral eye dorsally or ventrally, while the contralateral eye usually moved ventrally or caudally. This study provides the first data on the application of selective electrical vestibular stimulation in the rat to the study of vestibular-related eye movements.


Vestibular system Selective vestibular stimulation Eye movements Rat Vestibulo-ocular reflexes 



Anterior canal ampulla


Electrically evoked vestibulo-ocular reflex


Horizontal canal ampulla


Posterior canal ampulla


Semi-circular canals


Superior oblique


Vestibulo-ocular reflex



This research was funded from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013/ under REA Grant agreement no. 318980, a grant from Region Basse Normandie, CNES, and the Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund (to PFS and YZ).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical statement

All of the research reported in this paper was conducted in accordance with the Regulations of the University of Otago Committee on Ethics in the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and the procedures were approved by that Committee (55/12).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck SurgeryCHU de CaenCaenFrance
  2. 2.Department of AnatomyUNICAEN, Normadie UniversityCaenFrance
  3. 3.UNICAEN, University of Normandy, INSERM U1075, CHU de CaenCaenFrance
  4. 4.Department of OtolaryngologyUniversity of Tokushima School of MedicineTokushimaJapan
  5. 5.Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of Biomedical Sciences and Brain Health Research CentreUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  6. 6.Brain Research New Zealand Centre of Research ExcellenceAucklandNew Zealand
  7. 7.Eisdell Moore Centre for Hearing and Balance ResearchUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  8. 8.Department of Physiology, Anatomy and GeneticsUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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