Journal of Neurophysiology

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Spatial and temporal response properties of the vestibulocollic reflex in decerebrate cats

J. Baker, J. Goldberg, B. Peterson


Vestibulocollic reflex responses of several neck muscles in decerebrate cats were studied during angular rotations of the whole body in a large number of vertical and horizontal rotation planes, at frequencies from 0.07 to 1.6 Hz. Vestibulocollic responses were compared to eye muscle and forelimb muscle vestibular responses. Electromyographic activity was recorded by fine wires inserted in biventer cervicis, complexus, longus capitis, obliquus capitis inferior, occipitoscapularis, rectus capitis major, splenius, lateral rectus, and triceps brachii. At frequencies of approximately 0.5 Hz and above, neck muscle electromyographic response gains were sinusoidal functions of stimulus orientation within a set of vertical or horizontal planes, and a muscle's response phase remained constant across rotation planes, or reversed by 180 degrees. Response patterns at high frequencies were consistent with vestibulocollic reflex activation by semicircular canals through brain circuitry that modifies canal dynamics. At frequencies of approximately 0.5 Hz and above, the stimulus orientation in which a given neck muscle's response was maximal remained nearly constant across frequencies. Thus, we used responses to rotations at high frequencies to calculate axes of maximal response of each muscle in three-dimensional space. Lateral rectus, obliquus, and to a lesser extent, splenius and longus capitus were activated predominantly by horizontal rotations. Biventer was activated predominantly by pitch, triceps predominantly by roll, and complexus, occipitoscapularis, and rectus major significantly excited by rotations in all three coordinate planes. In some cases, at frequencies less than 0.5 Hz, neck muscle response phase varied depending on the vertical plane in which the cat was rotated, and the optimal response plane was poorly defined and varied with frequency. These responses indicated that, at some frequencies, neck muscle activity can result from summation of inputs with differing spatial orientation and dynamics (spatial-temporal convergence). Differences between responses to vertical and horizontal rotations suggested that low-frequency spatial-temporal convergence behavior of the vestibulocollic reflex during vertical rotations was due to convergent semicircular canal and otolith receptor inputs.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)