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Gordy, Clayton; Straka, Hans (2022): Developmental eye motion plasticity after unilateral embryonic ear removal in Xenopus laevis. iScience, 25 (10): 105165. ISSN 25890042

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Gaze stabilization relies on bilateral mirror-symmetric vestibular endorgans, central circuits, and extraocular motor effectors. Embryonic removal of one inner ear before the formation of these structures was used to evaluate the extent to which motor outputs in the presence of a singular inner ear can develop. Near-congenital one-eared tadpoles subjected to separate or combinatorial visuo-vestibular motion stimulation exhibited comparable eye movements, though smaller in gain to controls, whereas isolated visuo-motor responses were unaltered. Surprisingly, vestibulo-ocular reflexes were robust during off-direction motion toward the missing ear in most cases and often attenuated during on-direction motion. This bidirectional plasticity of signal encoding appears to occur at the expense of vestibular reflexes during motion in the normally preferential activation direction of the singular ear. Consequently, formation of central vestibulo-motor circuits in one-eared animals likely relies on multi-neuronal homeostatic strategies, including enhanced afferent fiber activity in the attempt to adjust bilateral sensorimotor transformations.

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