Otolith stimulation induces c-Fos expression in vestibular and precerebellar nuclei in cats and squirrel monkeys

Joan S. Baizer, Will L. Corwin, James F. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Vestibular information is critical for the control of balance, posture, and eye movements. Signals from the receptors, the semicircular canals and otoliths, are carried by the eighth nerve and distributed to the four nuclei of the vestibular nuclear complex, the VNC. However, anatomical and physiological data suggest that many additional brainstem nuclei are engaged in the processing of vestibular signals and generation of motor responses. To assess the role of these structures in vestibular functions, we have used the expression of the immediate early gene c-Fos as a marker for neurons activated by stimulation of the otoliths or the semicircular canals. Excitation of the otolith organs resulted in widespread c-Fos expression in the VNC, but also in other nuclei, including the external cuneate nucleus, the postpyramidal nucleus of the raphé, the nucleus prepositus hypoglossi, the subtrigeminal nucleus, the pontine nuclei, the dorsal tegmental nucleus, the locus coeruleus, and the reticular formation. Rotations that excited the semicircular canals were much less effective in inducing c-Fos expression. The large number of brainstem nuclei that showed c-Fos expression may reflect the multiple functions of the vestibular system. Some of these neurons may be involved in sensory processing of the vestibular signals, while others provide input to the vestibulo-ocular, vestibulocollic, and vestibulospinal reflexes or mediate changes in autonomic function. The data show that otolith stimulation engages brainstem structures both within and outside of the VNC, many of which project to the cerebellum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-73
Number of pages10
JournalBrain research
StatePublished - Sep 10 2010


  • Nystagmus
  • Plasticity
  • VOR
  • Velocity estimation
  • Vestibular compensation
  • Vestibular nuclear complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology


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