Eye movements and brainstem neuronal responses evoked by cerebellar and vestibular stimulation in chicks.
The vestibulo-ocular reflex undergoes adaptive changes that require inputs from the cerebellar flocculus onto brainstem vestibular neurons. As a step toward developing an in vitro preparation in chicks for studying the synaptic basis of those changes, we have elucidated the organization of the pathways through which the flocculus influences vestibulo-ocular movements. Electrical stimulation of the vestibular ampulla evoked brief, contralaterally directed movements in both eyes. Although single current pulses to the flocculus elicited no response, conjunctive stimulation of the flocculus and the vestibular apparatus significantly reduced the vestibularly-evoked movement. Trains of current pulses applied to the flocculus and ampulla evoked eye movements directed toward and away from the side of stimulation, respectively. Recordings from the brainstem revealed neurons that were activated by ipsilateral vestibular stimulation and inhibited by ipsilateral floccular stimulation. Our sample included neurons in the lateral vestibular nucleus, the ventrolateral portion of the medial vestibular nucleus, and the superior vestibular nucleus. Similarities between these findings and those of similar studies in mammals indicate that the chick will provide a good model system for cellular studies of adaptive changes in the vestibulo-ocular reflex.
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