Dynamic modification of the vestibulo-ocular reflex by the nodulus and uvula

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Science  12 Apr 1985:
Vol. 228, Issue 4696, pp. 199-202
DOI: 10.1126/science.3871968


The time constant of the decay of slow-phase eye velocity of postrotatory nystagmus or optokinetic after-nystagmus is reduced during exposure to a stationary visual surround (visual suppression). It is also reduced after tilting the head (tilt suppression). A "dump" mechanism in the vestibulo-ocular reflex has been proposed to rapidly discharge activity from the central vestibular system during both types of suppression. Monkeys lost this mechanism after lesions of the nodulus and uvula. They also lost the ability to habituate the time constant of nystagmus on repeated exposure to optokinetic and vestibular stimuli. Periodic alternating nystagmus, which is believed to represent an instability in the vestibulo-ocular reflex, was observed in two of three monkeys. These data indicate that the nodulus and uvula play an important role in suppressing, habituating, and stabilizing the vestibulo-ocular reflex.

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