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Cerebellum. 2013 Feb;12(1):97-107. doi: 10.1007/s12311-012-0401-7.

Role of cerebellum in motion perception and vestibulo-ocular reflex-similarities and disparities.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106-5040, USA.


Vestibular velocity storage enhances the efficacy of the angular vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) during relatively low-frequency head rotations. This function is modulated by GABA-mediated inhibitory cerebellar projections. Velocity storage also exists in perceptual pathway and has similar functional principles as VOR. However, it is not known whether the neural substrate for perception and VOR overlap. We propose two possibilities. First, there is the same velocity storage for both VOR and perception; second, there are nonoverlapping neural networks: one might be involved in perception and the other for the VOR. We investigated these possibilities by measuring VOR and perceptual responses in healthy human subjects during whole-body, constant-velocity rotation steps about all three dimensions (yaw, pitch, and roll) before and after 10 mg of 4-aminopyridine (4-AP). 4-AP, a selective blocker of inward rectifier potassium conductance, can lead to increased synchronization and precision of Purkinje neuron discharge and possibly enhance the GABAergic action. Hence 4-AP could reduce the decay time constant of the perceived angular velocity and VOR. We found that 4-AP reduced the decay time constant, but the amount of reduction in the two processes, perception and VOR, was not the same, suggesting the possibility of nonoverlapping or partially overlapping neural substrates for VOR and perception. We also noted that, unlike the VOR, the perceived angular velocity gradually built up and plateau prior to decay. Hence, the perception pathway may have additional mechanism that changes the dynamics of perceived angular velocity beyond the velocity storage. 4-AP had no effects on the duration of build-up of perceived angular velocity, suggesting that the higher order processing of perception, beyond the velocity storage, might not occur under the influence of mechanism that could be influenced by 4-AP.

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