Visual-vestibular interaction during head-free pursuit of pseudorandom target motion in man.

J. A. Waterston, G. R. Barnes

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    Recordings of head and eye movement were made during pursuit of mixed-frequency, pseudorandom target motion to study the mechanism of vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) suppression during head-free pursuit. When high velocity stimuli were used, slow-phase gaze velocity gains decreased significantly with increases in both absolute target velocity and the velocity ratio between the frequency components. These changes occurred independently of changes in the head displacement gain, which remained relatively constant at the lower frequency and were directly attributable to impaired suppression of the VOR. Similar effects were seen when visual feedback was degraded by tachistoscopic illumination of the target. The results indicate that visual feedback, rather than an efference copy of the head velocity signal, is essential for suppression of slow-phase vestibular eye movement during head-free pursuit. When head-free and head-fixed pursuit were compared, striking similarities were seen for both slow phase gaze velocity gain and phase, indicating that gaze control during smooth pursuit is largely independent of the degree of associated head movement. This suggests that the VOR is not switched off during head-free pursuit. An estimate of the underlying VOR gain was obtained by recording the vestibular response produced by active head movements in darkness. The rather higher estimates of VOR gain obtained using an imaginary earth-fixed target paradigm were found to predict head-free gains more closely than the gains obtained during imaginary pursuit of a moving target, suggesting that such measures may be more representative of the underlying VOR gain.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)71-88
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Vestibular Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1992


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