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This article is part of the supplement: Sixteenth Annual Computational Neuroscience Meeting: CNS*2007

Open Access Poster presentation

Adaptive rescaling extends the dynamic ranges of central vestibular signals in the alert cat

Raquel Heskin-Sweezie13*, Yao-Fang Tan1, Karl Farrow1 and Dianne M Broussard123

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 1A8

2 Faculty of Medicine, Division of Neurology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 1A8

3 University Health Network, Toronto Western Research Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5T 2S8

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BMC Neuroscience 2007, 8(Suppl 2):P161  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-8-S2-P161

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:6 July 2007

© 2007 Heskin-Sweezie et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Adaptive rescaling adjusts the sensitivities of sensory responses for efficient signal transmission under varying stimulus conditions. The possibility that rescaling could improve the performance of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) after sensory loss has not been investigated.

Materials and methods

We recorded from isolated vestibular neurons in alert cats that had recovered from peripheral vestibular damage. Stimuli consisted of rotation at 1 Hz with peak velocities of 10–120 deg/s. The sensitivities and dynamic ranges of vestibular neurons were measured.


Significant rescaling was seen both ipsilateral and contralateral to the damaged side. When the peak velocity increased by a factor of 8, the average sensitivity to rotation of the sample of neurons decreased by roughly a factor of 2. The dynamic ranges of central neurons and of the VOR appeared to increase at higher peak velocities.


Our results suggest that after vestibular damage, adaptive rescaling improves signal transmission by central vestibular neurons and may act to restore the dynamic range in the response of the VOR to rotation at high speeds.