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Neuroscience. 2001;104(3):853-62.

Spatial distribution of the vestibulospinal neurons in the frog vestibular nuclei.

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L.A. Orbeli Institute of Physiology, National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, 22 Bros. Orbeli Street, 375028, Yerevan, Armenia.


In experiments on the preparation of a frog perfused brain (Rana ridibunda), intracellular potentials were recorded from neurons of the vestibular nuclei following stimulation of the vestibular nerve and the spinal cord. The vestibulospinal neurons were identified on the basis of excitatory postsynaptic potentials evoked by the stimulation of the ipsilateral vestibular nerve and antidromic activation from the stimulation of the cervical and lumbar enlargements of the spinal cord. The cells that could be activated antidromically only by cervical cord stimulation have been designated as C cells, and the cells that could also be activated antidromically as a result of lumbar stimulation have been termed L cells. The average conduction velocity determined for C neurons was 10.67 m/s and for L neurons 15.84 m/s. The ratio of C and L neurons over the vestibular nuclear complex was very similar to each other: 52% C neurons and 48% L neurons. The majority of both types of neurons were localized in the lateral vestibular nucleus (58.6%), to a lesser extent in the descending vestibular nucleus (30.7%) and very little in the medial vestibular nucleus (10.6%). In the lateral vestibular nucleus, C neurons prevailed in the caudal part of the nucleus and L neurons prevailed in the rostral part. By contrast, in the descending and medial vestibular nuclei there was a gradual increase of C and L cells quantitatively from the rostral to the caudal part. Fast and slow cells were detected among the vestibulospinal neurons. The fast neurons of L cells did not prevail greatly over the slow ones, whereas the slow neurons of C cells prevailed comparatively largely over the fast neurons. Thus, it became possible to reconstruct the spatial distribution of the identified vestibulospinal neurons. The results of spatial distribution of C and L vestibulospinal neurons in the frogs failed to conform to definite somatotopy, which is characteristic of mammalian vestibular nuclei. The results of this study have confirmed an earlier assumption that C and L neurons in the frog's vestibular nuclei as a source of vestibulospinal fibers, are scattered separately or more frequently in groups, so that they establish a 'patch-like' somatotopy and do not form a distinctly designed field as in mammals.

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