Compensatory saccade differences between outward versus inward head impulses in chronic unilateral vestibular hypofunction

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11 Scopus citations


The horizontal head impulse test (HIT) is a valuable clinical tool that can help identify peripheral vestibular hypofunction by the refixation (compensatory) saccade that returns the eyes to the target of interest after the head has stopped. We asked if there were differences in the compensatory saccade responses during the HIT when the head was rotated away or toward straight ahead (outward versus inward). We also investigated the influence of a fixation target. Using scleral search-coils, we tested five patients with chronic unilateral vestibular hypofunction (UVH) and three healthy control subjects. In UVH patients, the latencies of both overt and covert saccades were longer when the head was rotated inward from an initially eccentric position, regardless of a visual target. The proportion of HIT with covert saccades was independent of a visual target. In control subjects no compensatory saccades were observed and there were no differences in either angular vestibulo-ocular reflex gain or latency between inward and outward HIT. Our data suggest that inward applied HIT in chronic UVH is more likely to include an overt compensatory saccade based on its lengthened latency. Neither latency nor the occurrence of covert compensatory saccades during HIT depended on a visual target, suggesting they have become a learned behavior in response to chronic UVH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1744-1749
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


  • Compensatory saccade
  • Covert saccade
  • Head impulse test
  • Overt saccade
  • Vestibulo-ocular reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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