Responses of vestibular nucleus neurons to tilt following chronic bilateral removal of vestibular inputs

Exp Brain Res. 2000 Jan;130(2):151-8. doi: 10.1007/s002219900238.


Recordings were made from the vestibular nuclei of decerebrate cats that had undergone a combined bilateral labyrinthectomy and vestibular neurectomy 49-103 days previously and allowed to recover. Responses of neurons were recorded to tilts in multiple vertical planes at frequencies ranging from 0.05 to 1 Hz and amplitudes up to 15 degrees. Many spontaneously active neurons were present in the vestibular nuclei; the mean firing rate of these cells was 43 +/- 5 (SEM) spikes/s. The spontaneous firing of the neurons was irregular: the coefficient of variation was 0.86 +/- 0.14. The firing of 27% of the neurons was modulated by tilt. The plane of tilt that elicited the maximal response was typically within 25 degrees of pitch. The response gain was approximately 1 spikes/s/degree across stimulus frequencies. The response phase was near stimulus position at low frequencies, and lagged position slightly at higher frequencies (average of 35 +/- 9 degrees at 0.5 Hz). The source of the inputs eliciting modulation of vestibular nucleus activity during tilt in animals lacking vestibular inputs is unknown, but could include receptors in the trunk or limbs. These findings show that activation of vestibular nucleus neurons during vertical rotations is not exclusively the result of labyrinthine inputs, and suggest that limb and trunk inputs may play an important role in graviception and modulating vestibular-elicited reflexes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cats
  • Decerebrate State
  • Ear, Inner / physiology*
  • Female
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Vestibular Nuclei / physiology*
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / physiology*