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Possible cues driving context-specific adaptation of optocollic reflex in pigeons (Columba livia).


Context-specific adaptation (Shelhamer M, Clendaniel R. Neurosci Lett 332: 200-204, 2002) explains that reflexive responses can be maintained with different "calibrations" for different situations (contexts). Which context cues are crucial and how they combine to evoke context-specific adaptation is not fully understood. Gaze stabilization in birds is a nice model with which to tackle that question. Previous data showed that when pigeons (Columba livia) were hung in a harness and subjected to a frontal airstream provoking a flying posture ("flying condition"), the working range of the optokinetic head response [optocollic reflex (OCR)] extended toward higher velocities compared with the "resting condition." The present study was aimed at identifying which context cues are instrumental in recalibrating the OCR. We investigated that question by using vibrating stimuli delivered during the OCR provoked by rotating the visual surroundings at different velocities. The OCR gain increase and the boost of the fast phase velocity observed during the "flying condition" were mimicked by body vibration. On the other hand, the newly emerged relationship between the fast-phase and slow-phase velocities in the "flying condition" was mimicked by head vibration. Spinal cord lesion at the lumbosacral level decreased the effects of body vibration, whereas lesions of the lumbosacral apparatus had no effect. Our data suggest a major role of muscular proprioception in the context-specific adaptation of the stabilizing behavior, while the vestibular system could contribute to the context-specific adaptation of the orienting behavior. Participation of an efferent copy of the motor command driving the flight cannot be excluded.


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  • Authors

    Gioanni H, Vidal PP


    Journal of neurophysiology 107:2 2012 Jan pg 704-17


    Adaptation, Physiological
    Flight, Animal
    Head Movements
    Lumbosacral Region
    Nystagmus, Optokinetic
    Photic Stimulation
    Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular
    Spinal Cord Injuries
    Time Factors

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article



    PubMed ID