Plane-specific brainstem commissural inhibition in frog second-order semicircular canal neurons

Exp Brain Res. 2001 Mar;137(2):190-6. doi: 10.1007/s002210000670.


Commissural inputs of identified second-order semicircular canal neurons were studied by separate stimulation of each of the three canal nerves on either side in the vitro frog brains. The spatial pattern of these inputs was further investigated in those second-order canal neurons that received a monosynaptic input from only one ipsilateral canal nerve (91%). Since similar results were obtained in the presence as in the absence of the cerebellum, commissural inputs must have been relayed via fibers crossing in the brainstem. Following stimulation of individual semicircular canal nerves, commissural inputs were either inhibitory or excitatory. A commissural inhibition was evoked in the majority of the recorded neurons (79%) by stimulation of the coplanar semicircular canal nerve on the contralateral side. In the remaining neurons, a commissural excitatory input was evoked. A commissural excitation, originating from the two noncoplanar semicircular canals, predominated in most (68%) of the recorded neurons and was independent of the type of second-order canal neuron. The onset latency of the canal plane-specific commissural inhibitory potentials was di- or trisynaptic. Stimulation of the contralateral VIIIth nerve evoked excitatory commissural responses. The canal plane-specific commissural inhibition therefore might have been masked by commissural excitatory responses as in earlier studies. The similar organization of the canal plane-specific commissural inhibition in frog and cat corroborates the notion of a phylogenetically conservative, basic vestibular organization. The presence of a canal plane-unspecific commissural excitation, however, appears to be a feature that is specific to frogs. The functional implications of these similarities and differences are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Phylogeny
  • Postural Balance / physiology
  • Rana temporaria / anatomy & histology
  • Rana temporaria / physiology*
  • Semicircular Canals / cytology
  • Semicircular Canals / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Vestibular Nuclei / cytology
  • Vestibular Nuclei / physiology*