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Research Abstracts Online
January 2008 - March 2009

University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Medical School
Department of Otolaryngology

PI: John H. Anderson

Neural Network Model for the Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex

The broad objective of this project is to develop a three-dimensional neural network model for eye movements that are caused by stimulation of the motion and gravity sensors in the inner ear, the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR). The VOR is one example of eye-head coordination, whereby the movement of the eyes serves to compensate for a head movement, thereby enabling one to fixate on a region of space or an object of interest even though the person is moving. The model will provide a theoretical framework to evaluate abnormalities of the VOR that are caused by inner ear disease or dysfunction of neural pathways and populations of neurons in the brainstem and cerebellum caused by the genetic family of neurodegenerative diseases, the spinocerebellar ataxias. The aims are: 1) to identify those neurons which might be involved in a disease process causing a specific pattern of abnormal behavior of the VOR; 2) to predict the extent to which the network could compensate for or adapt to the abnormal behavior and which neurons/pathways would be involved; and 3) to test models for motor learning involving sensory-motor transformations and the VOR. The development and testing of the model will use artificial neural network techniques, but the connectivity and input-output characteristics of single neurons will be based on what is known about the neurophysiology of the VOR. The researchers are using the SDVL for this project.

Group Member

Chris Fuller, Staff