The effect of retinal image error update rate on human vestibulo-ocular reflex gain adaptation

Shannon B. Fadaee, Americo A. Migliaccio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The primary function of the angular vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) is to stabilise images on the retina during head movements. Retinal image movement is the likely feedback signal that drives VOR modification/adaptation for different viewing contexts. However, it is not clear whether a retinal image position or velocity error is used primarily as the feedback signal. Recent studies examining this signal are limited because they used near viewing to modify the VOR. However, it is not known whether near viewing drives VOR adaptation or is a pre-programmed contextual cue that modifies the VOR. Our study is based on analysis of the VOR evoked by horizontal head impulses during an established adaptation task. Fourteen human subjects underwent incremental unilateral VOR adaptation training and were tested using the scleral search coil technique over three separate sessions. The update rate of the laser target position (source of the retinal image error signal) used to drive VOR adaptation was different for each session [50 (once every 20 ms), 20 and 15/35 Hz]. Our results show unilateral VOR adaptation occurred at 50 and 20 Hz for both the active (23.0 ± 9.6 and 11.9 ± 9.1 % increase on adapting side, respectively) and passive VOR (13.5 ± 14.9, 10.4 ± 12.2 %). At 15 Hz, unilateral adaptation no longer occurred in the subject group for both the active and passive VOR, whereas individually, 4/9 subjects tested at 15 Hz had significant adaptation. Our findings suggest that 1–2 retinal image position error signals every 100 ms (i.e. target position update rate 15–20 Hz) are sufficient to drive VOR adaptation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1085-1094
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Error feedback
  • Oculomotor learning
  • Retinal position slip
  • Vestibular adaptation
  • Vestibulo-ocular reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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