Otolith orientation and downbeat nystagmus in the normal cat

S. A. Rude, J. F. Baker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Upward drift of the eyes in darkness, influenced by whole body orientation, was studied in 12 cats using electromagnetic search coil and electro-oculographic techniques. Animals were positioned stationary with respect to gravity with 0° tilt ('upright') or rolled 90° ('on side'), pitched 90° ('on nose' or 'on tail'), or inverted 180° ('upside down'). A downbeat quick-phase nystagmus (slow-phase upward in the cat's orbit) was measured, varying in magnitude with angle of tilt (0.21°/s at 0° tilt; 4.14°/s at 180° tilt). The drift was not present in the light. Upward eye velocities over a range of body orientations in darkness suggest a systematic drive to the eyes which increases with tilt away from upright. The relationship of this behavior to previous models of angular velocity estimation by an otolith-driven central mechanism is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-148
Number of pages5
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996


  • Eye movements
  • Gravity
  • Nystagmus
  • Otolith organs
  • Vestibule-ocular reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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