Short-term adaptation of the VOR: Non-retinal-slip error signals and saccade substitution

Scott D.Z. Eggers, Nick De Pennington, Mark F. Walker, Mark Shelhamer, David S. Zee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


We studied short-term (30 min) adaptation of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) in five normal humans using a "position error" stimulus without retinal image motion. Both before and after adaptation a velocity gain (peak slow-phase eye velocity/peak head velocity) and a position gain (total eye movement during chair rotation/amplitude of chair motion) were measured in darkness using search coils. The vestibular stimulus was a brief (∼700 ms), 15° chair rotation in darkness (peak velocity 43°/s). To elicit adaptation, a straight-ahead fixation target disappeared during chair movement and when the chair stopped the target reappeared at a new location in front of the subject for gain-decrease (x0) adaptation, or 10° opposite to chair motion for gain-increase (x1.67) adaptation. This position-error stimulus was effective at inducing VOR adaptation, though for gain-increase adaptation the primary strategy was to substitute augmenting saccades during rotation while for gain-decrease adaptation both corrective saccades and a decrease in slow-phase velocity occurred. Finally, the presence of the position-error signal alone, at the end of head rotation, without any attempt to fix upon it, was not sufficient to induce adaptation. Adaptation did occur, however, if the subject did make a saccade to the target after head rotation, or even if the subject paid attention to the new location of the target without actually looking at it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-110
Number of pages17
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - 2003


  • Adaptation
  • Cognition
  • Saccades
  • Vestibulo-ocular reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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