Saccular and utricular inputs to single vestibular neurons in cats

Exp Brain Res. 2000 Apr;131(4):406-15. doi: 10.1007/s002219900312.


Saccular and utricular organs are essential for postural stability and gaze control. Although saccular and utricular inputs are known to terminate on vestibular neurons, few previous studies have precisely elucidated the origin of these inputs. We investigated the saccular and utricular inputs to single vestibular neurons in whole vestibular nuclei of decerebrated cats. Postsynaptic potentials were recorded from vestibular neurons after electrical stimulation of the saccular and utricular nerves. Ascending and descending axonal projections were examined by stimulating the oculomotor/trochlear nuclei and the cervical segment of the spinal cord, respectively. After each experiment, locations of recorded neurons were identified. The recorded neurons (140) were classified into vestibulo-spinal (79), vestibulo-oculo-spinal (9), and vestibulo-ocular (3) neurons based on antidromic responses; 49 other vestibular neurons were unidentified. The majority of recorded neurons were mainly located in the lateral vestibular nucleus. Most of the otolith-activated vestibular nuclei neurons seemed to participate in vestibulospinal reflexes. Of the total 140 neurons recorded, approximately one third (51) received saccular and utricular inputs (convergent neurons). The properties of these 51 convergent neurons were further investigated. Most (33/51) received excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) after saccular and utricular nerve stimulation. These results implied that most of the convergent neurons in this study additively coded mixed information for vertical and horizontal linear acceleration. Based on the latencies of convergent neurons, we found that an early integration process for vertical and horizontal linear acceleration existed at the second-order level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways
  • Axons / physiology
  • Cats
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Neurons, Afferent / ultrastructure
  • Oculomotor Nerve / cytology
  • Oculomotor Nerve / physiology
  • Otolithic Membrane / cytology
  • Otolithic Membrane / physiology
  • Saccule and Utricle / cytology*
  • Saccule and Utricle / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology
  • Vestibular Nerve / cytology*
  • Vestibular Nerve / physiology*