Zonal organization of the vestibulo-cerebellum in the control of horizontal extraocular muscles using pseudorabies virus: I. Flocculus/ventral paraflocculus

Neuroscience. 2004;125(2):507-20. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2004.01.051.


Much literature has studied the relationship between the organization of neurons in the flocculus/ventral paraflocculus and vestibulo-ocular reflex pathways. Although activation of a flocculus central zone produces ipsilateral horizontal eye movement, anatomical tracing evidence in rats suggests that there may not be a simple one-to-one correspondence between flocculus/ventral paraflocculus zones and control of single extraocular muscles or coplanar pairs of antagonistic extraocular muscles. This study used the retrograde transynaptic transport of pseudorabies virus to identify the topographical organization of Purkinje cells in the flocculus/ventral paraflocculus that control the lateral rectus (LR) and medial rectus (MR) muscles in rats. A survival time of 80 h and 84 h was necessary to observe consistent transynaptically labeled cells in the flocculus/ventral paraflocculus following injections of pseudorabies virus into the MR and LR, respectively. The organization of Purkinje cells in the dorsal flocculus and ventral paraflocculus abided by the traditional boundaries, whereas the labeling pattern in the ventral flocculus showed a more complex, interdigitated arrangement. In agreement with prior studies, transynaptically labeled neurons were also observed in specific vestibular nuclear regions within the medial and superior vestibular nuclei and dorsal Y group. The distribution of labeled neurons in ipsilateral and contralateral vestibular nuclei was associated with features of ipsilateral and contralateral retrograde labeling of Purkinje cells in flocculus/ventral paraflocculus. Importantly, this study provides the first evidence of vestibulo-cerebellar zones controlling individual extraocular muscles and also overlapping distribution of neurons in flocculo-vestibular zones that influence the LR and MR motoneuron pools. This suggests that some of these neurons may be responsible for controlling both muscles.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Cerebellum / cytology*
  • Cerebellum / virology
  • Functional Laterality
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Herpesvirus 1, Suid / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Oculomotor Muscles / anatomy & histology*
  • Oculomotor Muscles / virology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Vestibular Nuclei / cytology*
  • Vestibular Nuclei / virology
  • beta-Galactosidase / metabolism


  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • beta-Galactosidase