The vertical and horizontal components of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) were recorded in alert, restrained cats who were placed on their sides and subjected to whole-body rotations in the horizontal plane. The head was either on the axis or 45 cm eccentric from the axis of rotation. During off-axis rotation there was a change in the linear force acting on the otolith organs due to the presence of a centripetal acceleration along the animal's vertical axis. Otolith forces (defined to be opposite to the centripetal acceleration) directed ventrally with respect to the animal (negative) decreased both the amplitude and time constant of the first-order approximation to the slow phase eye velocity of the vertical vestibulo-ocular reflex (VVOR). Otolith forces directed dorsally (positive) increased the amplitude and time constant. The effects were greater for the up VOR. The asymmetry in the VVOR time constant also depended on the otolith forces, being less in the presence of negative otolith forces that caused the resultant otolith force to move ventrally, towards the direction along which gravity normally acts when the animal is in the upright position. The effects of otolith forces on the up VVOR were independent of whether the animals were tested in the dark or in the light with a stationary visual surround (i.e., during visual suppression). In contrast, the changes in the time constant of the down VVOR were smaller during visual suppression. Simulations of the eye velocity storage mechanism suggest that the gain of the feedback in the storage integrator was modified by the angle between the resultant otolith force and an animal-fixed reference. This could be the animal's vertical, i.e., the direction along which gravity normally acts. For larger angles the feedback was less and the amplitude and time constant of the VVOR increased. The transformation of the otolith input was the same for both the up and down VOR, even though the final effect on the eye velocity was asymmetric (larger for up VOR) due to a separate, asymmetric gain element in the velocity storage feedback pathway.
- Linear acceleration
- Up/down asymmetry
- Velocity storage
- Vertical vestibulo-ocular reflex
- Visual suppression