Timing of low frequency responses of anterior and posterior canal vestibulo-ocular neurons in alert cats

Sandra C. Brettler, James F. Baker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

The pitch vertical vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) is accurate and symmetrical when tested in the normal upright posture, where otolith organ and central velocity storage signals supplement the basic VOR mediated by the semicircular canals. However, when the animal and rotation axis are together repositioned by rolling 90° to one side, head forward pitch rotations, that excite the anterior semicircular canals elicit a more accurately timed VOR than do oppositely directed rotations that excite the posterior canals. This suggests that velocity storage of posterior canal signals is lost when the head is placed on its side. We recorded from 47 VOR relay neurons, second-order vestibulo-ocular neurons, of alert cats to test whether asymmetries are evident in the responses of neurons in the medial and superior vestibular nuclei during earth-horizontal axis rotations in the normal upright posture. Neurons were identified by antidromic responses to oculomotor nucleus stimulation and orthodromic responses to labyrinth stimulation, and were classified as having primarily anterior, posterior, or horizontal canal input based on response directionality. Neuronal response gains and phases were recorded during 0.5 Hz and 0.05 Hz sinusoidal oscillations in darkness. During 0.5 Hz rotations, anterior canal second-order vestibulo-ocular neurons responded approximately in phase with head velocity (mean phase re head position, ±SE, 80°±3°, n=18), as did posterior canal second-order vestibulo-ocular neurons (mean phase 81°±1°, n=25). Lowering the rotation frequency to 0.05 Hz resulted in only slight advances in response phases of individual anterior canal second-order vestibulo-ocular neurons (mean phase 86°±6°, mean advance 7°±5°, n=12). In contrast, posterior canal second-order vestibulo-ocular neurons behaved more like semicircular canal afferents, with responses markedly phase-advanced (mean advance 28°±5°, n=14) by lowering rotation frequency to 0.05 Hz (mean phase 111°±5°, n=14). In summary, low frequency responses of anterior and posterior canal second-order vestibulo-ocular neurons recorded during horizontal axis pitch correspond to the VOR they excite during vertical axis pitch. These results show that velocity storage is evident at anterior but not posterior canal second-order vestibulo-ocular neurons. We conclude that responses of posterior canal second-order vestibulo-ocular neurons are insufficient to explain the accurate low frequency VOR phase observed during backward head pitch in the upright posture, and that velocity storage or otolith signals required for VOR accuracy are carried by other neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-173
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Volume149
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2003

Keywords

  • Dynamics
  • Neurons
  • Oculomotor projection
  • Velocity storage
  • Vestibulo-ocular reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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