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J Neurophysiol. 2013 Oct;110(8):1822-36. doi: 10.1152/jn.00365.2013. Epub 2013 Jul 17.

Responses of central vestibular neurons to sinusoidal yaw rotation in compensated macaques after unilateral labyrinthectomy.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas.

Abstract

After vestibular labyrinth injury, behavioral measures of vestibular function partially recover through the process of vestibular compensation. The present study was performed to improve our understanding of the physiology of macaque vestibular nucleus neurons in the compensated state (>6 wk) after unilateral labyrinthectomy (UL). The responses of neurons to sinusoidal yaw rotation at a series of frequencies (0.1-2.0 Hz) and peak velocities (7.5-210°/s) were examined to determine how the behavior of these cells differed from those in animals with intact labyrinths. The sensitivity of neurons responding to ipsilateral rotation (type I) did not differ between the intact and injured sides after UL, although this sensitivity was lower bilaterally after lesion than before lesion. The sensitivity of neurons that increase firing with contralateral rotation (type II) was higher ipsilateral to the UL than before lesion or in the nucleus contralateral to the UL. UL did not increase asymmetry in the responses of individual type I or II neurons to ipsilateral vs. contralateral rotation, nor does it change the power law relationship between neuronal firing and level of stimulation. Increased sensitivities of contralesional type I neurons to the remaining vestibular nerve input and increased efficacy of inhibitory vestibular commissures projecting to the ipsilesional vestibular nucleus appear to be responsible for recovery of dynamic function of central vestibular neurons in compensated animals. The portion of type I neurons on the ipsilesional side is reduced in compensated animals, which likely accounts for the asymmetries in vestibular reflexes and perception that characterize vestibular function after UL.

KEYWORDS:

plasticity; type I neurons; type II neurons; vestibular compensation; vestibular nuclei

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