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J Vestib Res. 2004;14(1):1-15.

Central distribution of vestibular afferents that innervate the anterior or lateral semicircular canal in the mongolian gerbil.

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Department of Otolaryngology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555, USA.


The central distribution of afferents that innervate the crista ampullaris of the anterior or lateral semicircular canals was determined in gerbils following the direct injection of tracers into one sensory neuroepithelia. Labeled somata were scattered throughout the superior ganglion. The central distribution of fibers demonstrated extensive overlap. The central branch of afferents innervating either canal was located in the rostral part of the nerve. Nerve fibers divided into ascending and descending branches. Ascending branch ramifications terminated in the superior vestibular nucleus, the magnocellular and parvicellular medial vestibular nuclei, and the cerebellum. Cerebellar terminal areas include the flocculus, nodulus and uvula. Descending branch ramifications terminated in the caudal medial, parvicellular medial and descending vestibular nuclei, and the nucleus prepositus hypoglossi. Lateral canal afferents terminated sparsely in nucleus cuneatus. The anterior canal had sparse innervation in the paratrigeminal and gigantocellular reticular formation. This study has shown many similarities in the central distribution of fibers that innervate the anterior and lateral canals and a few areas of segregated input. Projections outside the vestibular nuclei are more extensive than previously determined, including afferents to prepositus hypoglossi, cochlear nuclei, and reticular formation. Projections to the flocculus appear as numerous as those to the vermis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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