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J Neurophysiol. 1988 Dec;60(6):2037-54.

The accessory optic system of rabbit. I. Basic visual response properties.

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  • 1Rockefeller University, New York 10021.


1. The response properties of accessory optic system (AOS) neurons were assessed using single-unit extracellular recording from each of the three AOS terminal nuclei [medial, lateral, and dorsal terminal nuclei (MTN, LTN, and DTN)] in the anesthetized rabbit. 2. AOS neurons had large, monocular (contralateral) receptive fields (tens of degrees on a side) and exhibited a pronounced selectivity to the speed and direction of movement of large, textured patterns. The greatest responses occurred at slow speeds on the order of 0.5 degrees/s. 3. MTN and LTN neurons responded best to movement in near vertical directions. However, the stimulus directions corresponding to the greatest excitation and the greatest inhibition both had a posterior component and, thus, the preferred excitatory and inhibitory directions were not opposite each other. DTN neurons responded most strongly to horizontal movement and were excited by temporal to nasal movement. 4. AOS neurons were unresponsive to natural vestibular stimulation presented as sinusoidal oscillations of the rabbit about the yaw, pitch, and roll axes. 5. The response properties of AOS neurons are remarkably similar to those of the ON, direction-selective ganglion cells of the rabbit retina, and therefore this class of ganglion cell is most likely the predominant, if not the only, direct retinal input to the AOS. The local direction-selective properties of AOS neurons can be accounted for by combining the tuning curves of ON, direction-selective ganglion cells in a simple manner. 6. The low speed preference of AOS neurons, along with their large receptive fields suggests that they are suited to complement the vestibular system in detecting self-motion.

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