, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 369-390

Functional characterization of primary vestibular afferents in the frog

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Summary

  1. In order to more accurately identify the nature of the vestibular input to central neurons, the response properties of single semicircular canal and otolith units in the frog VIIIth nerve were studied in curarized preparations.

  2. An equation describing the response plane was calculated for each canal on the basis of null point measurements. These results show that the ipsilateral canal planes are orthogonal within 2–5°, and that pairs of right-left synergists are essentially coplanar. A head position of 10–20° maxilla nose up produces optimal horizontal canal and minimal vertical canal activation with horizontal rotation.

  3. The frequency response of the horizontal canal was examined in the range 0.025–0.5 Hz. Comparatively shorter phase-lags and a 10 fold greater acceleration gain in this frequency range distinguish the frog from the mammalian species studied.

  4. Otolithic responses were tonic, phasic-tonic, and phasic in nature. The preponderance of the latter two groups is stressed (94%). Tonic responses were proportional to the gravitational vector change. Phasic responses were proportional to velocity during transitions in head position and phase-led displacement (30–80%) with sinusoidal acceleration in roll and pitch.

  5. Efferent vestibular neurons respond to rotation in the horizontal (usually Type III) as well as vertical planes. Responses in the vertical planes result from canal and/or otolithic input to these neurons indicating that the vestibular efferent system receives extensive multi-labyrinthine convergence.