Dynamic properties of vestibular reflexes in the decerebrate cat

G. Bilotto, J. Goldberg, B. W. Peterson*, V. J. Wilson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Vestibulocollic (VCR) and vestibulo-ocular (VOR) reflexes were studied during angular rotation in the horizontal plane in precollicular decerebrate cats. Angular position was modulated by sinusoids or sums of sinusoids with frequencies ranging from 0.05 to 5 Hz. Reflex motor output was measured by recording electromyographic (EMG) activity of the lateral rectus and dorsal neck muscles and discharge of abducens motoneurons. Measured with respect to input angular acceleration VCR motor output displayed a second order lag at low frequencies, bringing mean EMG phase (-136 °) and gain slope (-35 dB/ decade) close to those of an angular position signal at 0.2 Hz. At higher frequencies the lag was counteracted by a second order lead bringing mean phase (-52 °) and gain slope (-5.6 dB/decade) back close to those of an angular acceleration signal at 3 Hz. By contrast, mean phase (-113 ° to -105 °) and gain slope (-21 to -28 dB/decade) of the VOR motor output remained close to those of an angular velocity signal across the entire frequency range. The data suggest that neural pathways producing the VCR receive selective input from "irregular type" horizontal semicircular canal afferents which provide one lag and one lead in the overall transfer function while the other lag and lead are produced by central pathways. Transaction of the medial longitudinal fasciculus (MLF), which eliminates all of the most direct (three neuron) arcs of the horizontal VCR, did not cause any detectable change in the horizontal VCR at either low or high frequencies. Reductions in overall gain occurred in some cases but these could be attributed to damage to axons outside the MLF. Less direct pathways, probably including vestibulo-reticulospinal pathways, are thus able to produce both the low-frequency, phase-lagging and high-frequency, phase-leading components of the horizontal VCR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-352
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1982


  • Medial longitudinal fasciculus
  • Transfer function
  • Vestibular reflexes
  • Vestibulo-ocular
  • Vestibulocollic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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