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Exp Brain Res. 2005 Jul;164(3):271-85. Epub 2005 Jul 1.

Otolith and canal integration on single vestibular neurons in cats.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Tokyo Medical University, 6-1-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 160-8402, Japan.


In this review, based primarily on work from our laboratory, but related to previous studies, we summarize what is known about the convergence of vestibular afferent inputs onto single vestibular neurons activated by selective stimulation of individual vestibular nerve branches. Horizontal semicircular canal (HC), anterior semicircular canal (AC), posterior semicircular canal (PC), utricular (UT), and saccular (SAC) nerves were selectively stimulated in decerebrate cats. All recorded neurons were classified as either projection neurons, which consisted of vestibulospinal (VS), vestibulo-oculospinal (VOS), vestibulo-ocular (VO) neurons, or non-projection neurons, which we simply term "vestibular'' (V) neurons. The first three types could be successfully activated antidromically from oculomotor/trochlear nuclei and/or spinal cord, and the last type could not be activated antidromically from either site. A total of 1228 neurons were activated by stimulation of various nerve pair combinations. Convergent neurons were located in the caudoventral part of the lateral, the rostral part of the descending, and the medial vestibular nuclei. Otolith-activated vestibular neurons in the superior vestibular nucleus were extremely rare. A high percentage of neurons received excitatory inputs from two nerve pairs, a small percentage received reciprocal convergent inputs and even fewer received inhibitory inputs from both nerves. More than 30% of vestibular neurons received convergent inputs from vertical semicircular canal/otolith nerve pairs. In contrast, only half as many received convergent inputs from HC/otolith-nerve pairs, implying that convergent input from vertical semicircular canal and otolith-nerve pairs may play a more important role than that played by inputs from horizontal semicircular canal and otolith-nerve pairs. Convergent VS neurons projected through the ipsilateral lateral vestibulospinal tract (i-LVST) and the medial vestibulospinal tract (MVST). Almost all the VOS neurons projected through the MVST. Convergent neurons projecting to the oculomotor/trochlear nuclei were much fewer in number than those projecting to the spinal cord. Some of the convergent neurons that receive both canal and otolith input may contribute to the short-latency pathway of the vestibulocollic reflex. The functional significance of these convergences is discussed.

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