Self-motion perception and the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) were investigated in healthy subjects during asymmetric whole body yaw plane oscillations while standing on a platform in the dark. Platform oscillation consisted of two half-sinusoidal cycles of the same amplitude (40°) but different duration, featuring a fast (FHC) and a slow half-cycle (SHC). Rotation consisted of four or 20 consecutive cycles to probe adaptation further with the longer duration protocol. Self-motion perception was estimated by subjects tracking with a pointer the remembered position of an earth-fixed visual target. VOR was measured by electro-oculography. The asymmetric stimulation pattern consistently induced a progressive increase of asymmetry in motion perception, whereby the gain of the tracking response gradually increased during FHCs and decreased during SHCs. The effect was observed already during the first few cycles and further increased during 20 cycles, leading to a totally distorted location of the initial straight-ahead. In contrast, after some initial interindividual variability, the gain of the slow phase VOR became symmetric, decreasing for FHCs and increasing for SHCs. These oppositely directed adaptive effects in motion perception and VOR persisted for nearly an hour. Control conditions using prolonged but symmetrical stimuli produced no adaptive effects on either motion perception or VOR. These findings show that prolonged asymmetric activation of the vestibular system leads to opposite patterns of adaptation of self-motion perception and VOR. The results provide strong evidence that semicircular canal inputs are processed centrally by independent mechanisms for perception of body motion and eye movement control. These divergent adaptation mechanisms enhance awareness of movement toward the faster body rotation, while improving the eye stabilizing properties of the VOR.
ASJC Scopus subject areas