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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2001 Oct;942:364-80.

Vestibulospinal control of reflex and voluntary head movement.

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Center for Bioinformatics, Ames Research Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Moffett Field, California 94035-1000, USA.
NW U, Chicago, IL


Secondary canal-related vestibulospinal neurons respond to an externally applied movement of the head in the form of a firing rate modulation that encodes the angular velocity of the movement, and reflects in large part the input "head velocity in space" signal carried by the semicircular canal afferents. In addition to the head velocity signal, the vestibulospinal neurons can carry a more processed signal that includes eye position or eye velocity, or both (see Boyle on ref. list). To understand the control signals used by the central vestibular pathways in the generation of reflex head stabilization, such as the vestibulocollic reflex (VCR), and the maintenance of head posture, it is essential to record directly from identified vestibulospinal neurons projecting to the cervical spinal segments in the alert animal. The present report discusses two key features of the primate vestibulospinal system. First, the termination morphology of vestibulospinal axons in the cervical segments of the spinal cord is described to lay the structural basis of vestibulospinal control of head/neck posture and movement. And second, the head movement signal content carried by the same class of secondary vestibulospinal neurons during the actual execution of the VCR and during self-generated, or active, rapid head movements is presented.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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