Vestibular primary afferents project to secondary vestibular neurons located in the vestibular complex. Vestibular primary afferents also project to the uvula-nodulus of the cerebellum where they terminate on granule cells. In this report we describe the physiological properties of neurons in a 'new' vestibular nucleus, the parasolitary nucleus (Psol). This nucleus consists of 2,300 GABAergic neurons that project onto the ipsilateral inferior olive (β- nucleus and dorsomedial cell column) as well as the nucleus reticularis gigantocellularis. These olivary neurons are the exclusive source of vestibularly modulated climbing fiber inputs to the cerebellum. We recorded the activity of Psol neurons during natural vestibular stimulation in anesthetized rabbits. The rabbits were placed in a three-axis rate table at the center of a large sphere, permitting vestibular and optokinetic stimulation. We recorded from 74 neurons in the Psol and from 23 neurons in the regions bordering Psol. The activity of 72/74 Psol neurons and 4/23 non- Psol neurons was modulated by vestibular stimulation in either the pitch or roll planes but not the horizontal plane. Psol neurons responded in phase with ipsilateral side-down head position or velocity during sinusoidal stimulation. Approximately 80% of the recorded Psol neurons responded to static roll-tilt. The optimal response planes of evoked vestibular responses were inferred from measurement of null planes. Optimal response planes usually were aligned with the anatomical orientation of one of the two ipsilateral vertical semicircular canals. The frequency dependence of null plane measurements indicated a convergence of vestibular information from otoliths and semicircular canals. None of the recorded neurons evinced optokinetic sensitivity. These results are consistent with the view that Psol neurons provide the vestibular signals to the inferior olive that eventually reached the cerebellum in the form of modulated climbing fiber discharges. These signals provide information about spatial orientation about the longitudinal axis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas