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Exp Brain Res. 2000 Dec;135(4):511-26.

Neck proprioceptive inputs to primate vestibular nucleus neurons.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology, Pharmacology and Physiology, University of Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


The contribution of neck proprioceptive signals to signal processing in the vestibular nucleus was studied by recording responses of secondary horizontal canal-related neurons to neck rotation in the squirrel monkey. Responses evoked by passive neck rotation while the head was held stationary in space were compared with responses evoked by passive whole body rotation and by forced rotation of the head on the trunk. Most neurons (76%; 45/59) were sensitive to neck rotation. The nature and strength of neck proprioceptive inputs varied and usually combined linearly with vestibular inputs. In most cases (94%), the direction of the neck proprioceptive input was "antagonistic" or "reciprocal" with respect to vestibular sensitivity and, consequently, reduced the vestibular response during head-on-trunk rotation. Different types of vestibular neurons received different types of proprioceptive input. Neurons whose firing behavior was related to eye position (position-vestibular-pause neurons and position-vestibular neurons) were often sensitive to the position of the head with respect to the trunk. The sensitivity to head position was usually in the same direction as the neuron's eye position sensitivity. Non-eye-movement related neurons and eye-head-velocity neurons exhibited the strongest sensitivity to passive neck rotation and had signals that were best related to neck velocity. The results suggest that neck proprioceptive inputs play an important role in shaping the output of the primate vestibular nucleus and its contribution to posture, gaze and perception.

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