Inferior olive and oculomotor system

Prog Brain Res. 2006:151:269-91. doi: 10.1016/S0079-6123(05)51009-4.


Three subnuclei within the inferior olive are implicated in the control of eye movement; the dorsal cap (DC), the beta-nucleus and the dorsomedial cell column (DMCC). Each of these subnuclei can be further divided into clusters of cells that encode specific parameters of optokinetic and vestibular stimulation. DC neurons respond to optokinetic stimulation in one of three planes, corresponding to the anatomical planes of the semicircular canals. Neurons in the beta-nucleus and DMCC respond to vestibular stimulation in the planes of the vertical semicircular canals and otoliths. Each these olivary nuclei receives excitatory and inhibitory signals from pre-olivary structures. The DC receives excitatory signals from the ipsilateral nucleus of the optic tract (NOT) and inhibitory signals from the contralateral nucleus prepositus hypoglossi (NPH). The beta-nucleus and DMCC receive inhibitory signals from the ipsilateral nucleus parasolitarius (Psol) and excitatory signals from the contralateral dorsal Y group. Consequently, the olivary projection to the cerebellum, although totally crossed, still represents bilateral sensory stimulation. Inputs to the inferior olive from the NOT, NPH, Psol or Y-group discharge at frequencies of 10-100 imp/s. CFRs discharge at 1-5 imp/s; a frequency reduction of an order of magnitude. Inferior olivary projections to the contralateral cerebellum are sagittally arrayed onto multiple cerebellar folia. These arrays establish coordinate systems in the flocculus and nodulus, representing head-body movement. These climbing fiber-defined spatial coordinate systems align Purkinje cell discharge onto subjacent cerebellar and vestibular nuclei. In the oculomotor system, olivo-cerebellar circuitry enhances and modifies eye movements based on movement of the head-body in space.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebellum / physiology
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Haplorhini
  • Head Movements / physiology
  • Humans
  • Medulla Oblongata / anatomy & histology
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Nystagmus, Optokinetic / physiology
  • Olivary Nucleus / anatomy & histology*
  • Olivary Nucleus / physiology
  • Otolithic Membrane / innervation
  • Otolithic Membrane / physiology
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology
  • Rabbits
  • Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular / physiology
  • Semicircular Canals / innervation
  • Semicircular Canals / physiology
  • Vestibular Nuclei / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology