, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 27-39

The response of horizontal semicircular canal afferents to sinusoidal rotation in the cat

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Dynamic characteristics of primary vestibular afferents innervating the horizontal semicircular canal were studied in decerebrate, unanesthetized cats. Activities of individual afferent fibers were recorded intracranially by glass micropipettes. Frequency of sinusoidal rotation was varied from 0.014 Hz to 0.42 Hz, and phase and gain properties were examined.

All of the fibers recorded fired spontaneously, and their firing rate ranged from 7 to 128 spikes/sec. Regularity of firing, phase lags, and gains were calculated in individual fibers. There was a tendency that the units with high spontaneous firing rates showed regular firing, larger phase lags, and lower gains than the units with low spontaneous firing rates.

The transfer function of the system (firing rate of the primary afferent per angular acceleration of the head) was \(\frac{{1.98(0.08s + 1}}{{4.1s + 1}}\) . A high frequency phase lead component was needed to account for the data obtained, indicating a slight deviation from the relationship predicted by the torsion pendulum model.

The present phase properties were compared with those of vestibular nucleus neurons reported previously. It was suggested that a group of vestibular nucleus neurons transmits fairly faithfully the phase properties of primary afferents, and that another group of vestibular nucleus neurons receive additional influences from central structures, exhibiting larger phase lags than primary afferents.