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Cerebellum. 2012 Mar;11(1):212-22. doi: 10.1007/s12311-011-0298-6.

Effects of leg-to-body position on the responses of rat cerebellar and vestibular nuclear neurons to labyrinthine stimulation.

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Department of Physiological Sciences, Pisa University, Via S. Zeno 31, 56127 Pisa, Italy.


The spatial organization of vestibulospinal (VS) reflexes, elicited by labyrinthine signals and related to head motion, depends on the direction of body tilt, due to proprioceptive neck afferents acting through the cerebellar anterior vermis. The responses of Purkinje cells located within this region to labyrinthine stimulation are modulated by the head-to-body position. We investigated, in urethane-anesthetized rats, whether a 90° leg-to-trunk displacement modifies the responses of corticocerebellar and vestibular nuclear neurons to the labyrinthine input, which would indicate that VS reflexes are tuned by the leg-to-trunk position. With this aim, unit activity was recorded during "wobble" stimuli that allow evaluating the gain and spatiotemporal properties of neuronal responses. The response gain of corticocerebellar units showed a significant drop in the leg-rotated position with respect to the control one. Following a change in leg position, a proportion of the recorded neurons showed significant changes in the direction and phase of the response vector. In contrast, vestibular nuclear neurons did not show significant modifications in their response gain and direction. Thus, proprioceptive afferents signaling leg-to-trunk position seem to affect the processing of directional labyrinthine signals within the cerebellar cortex.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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