Neuronal activity related to vertical eye movement in the region of the interstitial nucleus of Cajal in alert cats

Exp Brain Res. 1990;79(1):43-64. doi: 10.1007/BF00228872.


(1) Discharge characteristics of neurons in the region of the interstitial nucleus of Cajal (INC) were studied in alert cats during spontaneous or visually induced eye movement and sinusoidal vertical (pitch) rotation. Activity of a majority of cells (n = 68) was closely related to vertical eye position with or without bursting activity during on-direction saccades. They were called vertical burst-tonic (n = 62) and tonic (n = 6) neurons. Mean discharge rates for individual cells when the eye was near the primary position ranged from 35 to 133 (mean 75) spikes/s with a coefficient of variation (CV) ranging from 0.04 to 0.29 (mean 0.15). Average rate position curves were linear for the great majority of these cells with a mean slope of 3.9 +/- 1.2 SD spikes/s/deg. (2) The burst index was defined as the difference in discharge rate between maximal rate during an on-direction saccade and the tonic rate after the saccade. The values of mean burst index for individual cells ranged from 8 to 352 (mean 135) spikes/s. Tonic neurons had a burst index lower than 60 spikes/s and were distributed in the lower end of the continuous histogram, suggesting that burst-tonic and tonic neurons may be a continuous group with varying degrees of burst components. During off-direction saccades, a pause was not always observed, although discharge rate consistently decreased and pauses were seen when saccades were made further in the off-direction toward recruitment thresholds. Significant positive correlation was observed between average discharge rate during off- as well as on-direction saccades and tonic discharge rate after saccades for individual cells, which was not due to cats making saccades mainly from the primary position. (3) During pitch rotation at 0.11 Hz (+/- 10 deg), burst-tonic and tonic neurons had mean phase lag and gain of 128 (+/- 13 SD) deg and 4.2 (+/- 1.7 SD) spikes/s/deg/s2 relative to head acceleration. During pitch rotation of a wide frequency range (0.044-0.495 Hz), the values of phase lag were mostly constant (120-140 deg), while simultaneously recorded vertical VOR showed the mean phase lag of 178 deg. Vertical eye position sensitivity and pitch gain (re head position) showed significant positive correlation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Eye Movements*
  • Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular / physiology*
  • Rotation
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / physiology*