Canal-neck interaction in vestibular nuclear neurons of the cat

Exp Brain Res. 1982;46(2):269-80. doi: 10.1007/BF00237185.


The convergence and interaction of horizontal semicircular canal and neck proprioceptive inputs were studied in neurons of the caudal two thirds of the vestibular nuclear complex. Extracellular neuron activity was recorded under muscle relaxation and slight anesthesia in chronically prepared cats. The following stimulations were applied: horizontal rotations of (a) the whole body (labyrinth stimulation), (b) the trunk vs. the stationary head (neck stimulation), and (c) the head vs. the stationary trunk (combined labyrinth and neck stimulation). Of 152 neurons investigated, 83 (55%) showed convergence of the two inputs. In about half of these neurons, the neck input was very weak and hardly affected the labyrinthine response during head rotation. Judged from the response pattern, several of these neurons presumably were related to vestibulo-oculomotor function (i.e., vestibular nystagmus). In the other half (i.e., 27% of all neurons), sensitivity of the two inputs was similar. Both labyrinthine and neck responses contained a dynamic ("velocity") component; neck responses of more than half of these neurons had, in addition, a static ("position") component. The dynamic components were either "antagonistic" or "synergistic" as to their convergence during head rotation. When applying this combined stimulation, the dynamic components summed linearly, yielding subtration in case of antagonistic convergence and addition in case of synergistic convergence. In contrast, the static components of the neck responses remained largely unchanged during head rotation. However, the static head-to-trunk deflection determined the tonic discharge level in such neurons and thus facilitated or disfacilitated the dynamic responses to superimposed labyrinth stimulation. We suggest that the two patterns of labyrinthine neck interaction observed in vestibular nuclear neurons, i.e., subtration and addition, may be involved in the postural control of the trunk and head, respectively. In contrast, interference of the neck input with vestibulo-oculomotor function appears to be almost negligible in the intact cat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory
  • Eye Movements
  • Kinesthesis / physiology
  • Muscles / innervation*
  • Neck Muscles / innervation*
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Semicircular Canals / innervation*
  • Synaptic Transmission
  • Vestibular Nuclei / physiology*