Convergence of sensory inputs upon projection neurons of somatosensory cortex: vestibular, neck, head, and forelimb inputs

Exp Brain Res. 1983;50(2-3):408-14. doi: 10.1007/BF00239207.


Cortico-cortical neurons and pyramidal tract (PT) neurons of the cat cerebral cortex were tested for convergent inputs from electrically stimulated vestibular, neck, head and forelimb nerves. Neurons were recorded within forelimb and vestibular projection regions of cortical area 3a. Consideration was given to both suprathreshold and subthreshold inputs. Neither vestibular, neck nor head inputs were detected in the forelimb region of area 3a. In contrast, within the vestibular projection region of area 3a, 43% (6/14) of the cortico-cortical neurons and 63% (24/38) of the PT neurons received excitatory vestibular input. Inputs from the skin of the pinna (greater auricular nerve) were detected only for PT neurons (66%, 25/38). No inputs were detected from afferent nerves supplying the dorsal neck muscles biventer cervicis and complexus. Cortico-cortical and PT neurons receiving vestibular input also received convergent inputs originating from forelimb group I deep and low threshold cutaneous afferent fibers. Further, one half of the PT neurons with vestibular input (12/24) received input from three somatic sources: forelimb group I deep, forelimb low threshold cutaneous and greater auricular (head) nerves. The input connectivities suggest a role for these projection neurons of somatosensory cortex in the coordination of head and forelimb movements. The convergence of vestibular information with somatic input from the forelimb implies that vestibular-influenced neurons of area 3a projecting to the motor cortex or through the pyramidal tract would signal head position or movement with respect to proprioceptive feedback from the limbs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory
  • Forelimb / innervation
  • Head / innervation
  • Neck / innervation
  • Pyramidal Tracts / physiology
  • Skin / innervation
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Vestibular Nerve / physiology