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J Neurophysiol. 1991 Jun;65(6):1360-71.

Fastigial nucleus activity in the alert monkey during slow eye and head movements.

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Department of Neurology, Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich, Federal Republic of Germany.


1. Single units were recorded extracellularly from the fastigial nucleus of three macaque monkeys. Two untrained animals were subjected to whole-body yaw rotations in the light and dark and to full-field horizontal optokinetic stimuli provided by a drum with vertical stripes. The third also was subjected to sinusoidal yaw rotations but, in addition, was trained to follow a small spot, which moved in various ways relative to the animal, to reveal possible smooth pursuit and vestibular sensitivities. 2. On the basis of their responses to vestibular and optokinetic stimuli and their responses during smooth pursuit, fastigial neurons could be divided functionally into a rostral and a caudal group. 3. Most rostral neurons exhibited an increased firing for contralateral head rotations and ipsilateral optokinetic stimuli. A few had the opposite combination of directional preferences. The average firing rates increased monotonically both with contralateral head velocity and ipsilateral drum velocity and decreased monotonically for the oppositely directed movements. There was no change in firing rate for either spontaneous saccades or smooth pursuit of a small moving spot. 4. In contrast, neurons in the caudal fastigial nuclei not only have a robust vestibular sensitivity, but respond during smooth pursuit as well. Most discharge during contralateral head velocity and contralateral smooth pursuit so that they exhibit very little modulation during the vestibuloocular reflex (VOR) or when the rotating animal is fixating a target stationary in the world (SIW). The remaining neurons discharge during contralateral head rotations but ipsilateral eye rotations; these units exhibit their greatest modulation during the SIW condition. 5. Because they respond during quite different behavioral situations, it seems likely that rostral fastigial neurons are involved with descending control of the somatic musculature, whereas the caudal neurons are involved in oculomotor control. The sparse anatomic and lesion data that is available is consistent with this idea.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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