Partial ablations of the flocculus and ventral paraflocculus in monkeys cause linked deficits in smooth pursuit eye movements and adaptive modification of the VOR.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The vestibuloocular reflex (VOR) generates compensatory eye movements to stabilize visual images on the retina during head movements. The amplitude of the reflex is calibrated continuously throughout life and undergoes adaptation, also called motor learning, when head movements are persistently associated with image motion. Although the floccular-complex of the cerebellum is necessary for VOR adaptation, it is not known whether this function is localized in its anterior or posterior portions, which comprise the ventral paraflocculus and flocculus, respectively. The present paper reports the effects of partial lesions of the floccular-complex in five macaque monkeys, made either surgically or with stereotaxic injection of 3-nitropropionic acid (3-NP). Before and after the lesions, smooth pursuit eye movements were tested during sinusoidal and step-ramp target motion. Cancellation of the VOR was tested by moving a target exactly with the monkey during sinusoidal head rotation. The control VOR was tested during sinusoidal head rotation in the dark and during 30 degrees/s pulses of head velocity. VOR adaptation was studied by having the monkeys wear x2 or x0.25 optics for 4-7 days. In two monkeys, bilateral lesions removed all of the flocculus except for parts of folia 1 and 2 but did not produce any deficits in smooth pursuit, VOR adaptation, or VOR cancellation. We conclude that the flocculus alone probably is not necessary for either pursuit or VOR learning. In two monkeys, unilateral lesions including a large fraction of the ventral paraflocculus produced small deficits in horizontal and vertical smooth pursuit, and mild impairments of VOR adaptation and VOR cancellation. We conclude that the ventral paraflocculus contributes to both behaviors. In one monkey, a bilateral lesion of the flocculus and ventral paraflocculus produced severe deficits smooth pursuit and VOR cancellation, and a complete loss of VOR adaptation. Considering all five cases together, there was a strong correlation between the size of the deficits in VOR learning and pursuit. We found the strongest correlation between the behavior deficits and the size of the lesion of the ventral paraflocculus, a weaker but significant correlation for the full floccular complex, and no correlation with the size of the lesion of the flocculus. We conclude that 1) lesions of the floccular complex cause linked deficits in smooth pursuit and VOR adaptation, and 2) the relevant portions of the structure are primarily in the ventral paraflocculus, although the flocculus may participate.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rambold, H; Churchland, A; Selig, Y; Jasmin, L; Lisberger, SG

Published Date

  • February 2002

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 87 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 912 - 924

PubMed ID

  • 11826056

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC2629758

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-3077

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1152/jn.00768.2000


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States