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J Neurophysiol. 1985 Jun;53(6):1444-52.

Responses to head tilt in cat central vestibular neurons. II. Frequency dependence of neural response vectors.


The responses of central vestibular neurons in the decerebrate cat subjected to whole-body tilt were examined as a function both of stimulus orientation (with respect to the cat's head) and frequency, with the aim of understanding the neural processing responsible for producing the observed response patterns. Responses to whole-body tilt were recorded from vestibular neurons in and around the lateral vestibular nucleus (LVN). By plugging all six semicircular canals, the otolith contribution was studied in isolation. For each neuron, a response vector was defined as having three components: orientation, gain, and phase. These components were examined using sinusoidal stimulus frequencies of 0.01 to 2 Hz. The orientation component of the neural response vector does not vary as a function of stimulus frequency. Thus response dynamics previously described with a fixed (roll) axis cannot be explained by changes in the angle between the response vector orientation and a fixed stimulus axis. Two major classes of neural responses were observed. One class had a phase lead at low frequencies and gain that showed a modest increase with frequency. It could be described by a model that included a fractional s exponent operator. These response dynamics resemble that of otolith afferents, suggesting that these neurons may be acting as simple relays. The other major response class was characterized by a large gain increase and a phase lag of as much as 180 degrees as frequency increased; such response dynamics have been previously observed in otolith-evoked neck and forelimb reflexes. A more complex model, consisting of a parallel excitatory and high-pass-filtered inhibitory limb, was necessary to describe these responses. The orientation component of the response vector of most of the neurons whose dynamics were best described by the parallel pathway model pointed toward the contralateral side, implying they would be excited by side-up tilt (at low frequencies). Most other neurons had ipsilateral vectors.

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