Evidence for interacting cortical control of vestibular function and spatial representation in man.
The cortical control of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) and visual suppression of VOR was studied in 13 adult cats with unilateral lesions. VOR was tested in the dark by sinusoidal rotations of the animal at different frequencies. Visual suppression of VOR was tested in the light by keeping the visual field stationary with respect to the animal. No deficits of VOR and visual suppression of VOR appeared following unilateral ablations of visual cortex. Unilateral lesions of different parts of the suprasylvian cortex were made in the posterior and middle suprasylvian cortex involving area 7 and the lateral suprasylvian area (LSA). After middle suprasylvian cortex damage (particularly area 7), all the animals exhibited a VOR asymmetry due mainly to a gain decrease of slow phases directed towards the side of the lesion. In two animals, transitory spontaneous nystagmus was present in the dark with the fast phase directed toward the side of the lesion. Only when LSA was destroyed, could an asymmetry of the visual suppression of VOR be observed with a loss of the visual suppression during ipsilateral rotations. The VOR deficit was transient: spontaneous nystagmus disappeared within the first postoperative week, the vestibular asymmetry and the loss of visual suppression of VOR were no longer present after 2-3 weeks. We conclude that the middle suprasylvian cortex, particularly area 7, exerts an ipsilateral control on the VOR.