Adaptive changes of the vestibulo-ocular reflex in flatfish are achieved by reorganization of central nervous pathways

Science  19 Aug 1983:
Vol. 221, Issue 4612, pp. 777-779
DOI: 10.1126/science.6603656


Flatfish provide a natural model for the study of adaptive changes in the vestibulo-ocular reflex system. During metamorphosis their vestibular and oculomotor coordinate systems undergo a 90 degree relative displacement. As a result, during swimming movements different types of compensatory eye movements are produced before and after metamorphosis by the same vestibular stimulation. Intracellular staining of central nervous connections in the flatfish with horseradish peroxidase revealed that in postmetamorphic fish secondary horizontal semicircular canal neurons contact vertical eye muscle motoneuron pools on both sides of the brain via pathways that are absent in all other vertebrates studied.