Multiple time courses of vestibular set-point adaptation revealed by sustained magnetic field stimulation of the labyrinth

Prem Jareonsettasin, Jorge Otero-Millan, Bryan K. Ward, Dale C. Roberts, Michael C. Schubert, David S. Zee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


A major focus in neurobiology is how the brain adapts its motor behavior to changes in its internal and external environments [1, 2]. Much is known about adaptively optimizing the amplitude and direction of eye and limb movements, for example, but little is known about another essential form of learning, "set-point" adaptation. Set-point adaptation balances tonic activity so that reciprocally acting, agonist and antagonist muscles have a stable platform from which to launch accurate movements. Here, we use the vestibulo-ocular reflex - a simple behavior that stabilizes the position of the eye while the head is moving - to investigate how tonic activity is adapted toward a new set point to prevent eye drift when the head is still [3, 4]. Set-point adaptation was elicited with magneto-hydrodynamic vestibular stimulation (MVS) by placing normal humans in a 7T MRI for 90 min. MVS is ideal for prolonged labyrinthine activation because it mimics constant head acceleration and induces a sustained nystagmus similar to natural vestibular lesions [5, 6]. The MVS-induced nystagmus diminished slowly but incompletely over multiple timescales. We propose a new adaptation hypothesis, using a cascade of imperfect mathematical integrators, that reproduces the response to MVS (and more natural chair rotations), including the gradual decrease in nystagmus as the set point changes over progressively longer time courses. MVS set-point adaptation is a biological model with applications to basic neurophysiological research into all types of movements [7], functional brain imaging [8], and treatment of vestibular and higher-level attentional disorders by introducing new biases to counteract pathological ones [9].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1359-1366
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 23 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Multiple time courses of vestibular set-point adaptation revealed by sustained magnetic field stimulation of the labyrinth'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this