Deficits and recovery in visuospatial memory during head motion after bilateral labyrinthine lesion

Department of Neurobiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.
Journal of Neurophysiology (Impact Factor: 2.89). 10/2006; 96(3):1676-82. DOI: 10.1152/jn.00012.2006
Source: PubMed


To keep a stable internal representation of the environment as we move, extraretinal sensory or motor cues are critical for updating neural maps of visual space. Using a memory-saccade task, we studied whether visuospatial updating uses vestibular information. Specifically, we tested whether trained rhesus monkeys maintain the ability to update the conjugate and vergence components of memory-guided eye movements in response to passive translational or rotational head and body movements after bilateral labyrinthine lesion. We found that lesioned animals were acutely compromised in generating the appropriate horizontal versional responses necessary to update the directional goal of memory-guided eye movements after leftward or rightward rotation/translation. This compromised function recovered in the long term, likely using extravestibular (e.g., somatosensory) signals, such that nearly normal performance was observed 4 mo after the lesion. Animals also lost their ability to adjust memory vergence to account for relative distance changes after motion in depth. Not only were these depth deficits larger than the respective effects on version, but they also showed little recovery. We conclude that intact labyrinthine signals are functionally useful for proper visuospatial memory updating during passive head and body movements.

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    • "For translation, however, the transformation required to predict the updated visual position of objects is considerably more involved. This is because each object in the scene moves differently relative to the observer depending on its distance and direction [15] [32]. "
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    • "Notably, trained animals loose their ability to properly adjust memory vergence angle after destruction of the vestibular labyrinths (Li and Angelaki, 2005). Such deficits are also observed for lateral translation and yaw rotation, however, while yaw rotation updating deficits recover over time, updating capacity after forward and backward movements remain compromised even several months following a lesion (Wei et al., 2006). These uncompensated deficits are reminiscent of the permanent loss observed for fine direction discrimination after labyrinthine lesions (Gu et al., 2007) and suggest a dominant role of otolith signals for the processing of both self-motion information and spatial updating in depth. "
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    • "Immediately after the lesion, the animals' updating abilities were significantly compromised for both rotations and translations (figure 7). However, while updating ability slowly improved over time to near normal levels for yaw rotations and lateral translations, there was no improvement for fore-aft motion, even after four months (Wei et al., 2006). Thus, vestibular signals may play a more important role for updating movements that require a vergence response (i.e., fore-aft motion) than for those that require a version response. "
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