Role of primate flocculus during rapid behavioral modification of vestibuloocular reflex. II. Mossy fiber firing patterns during horizontal head rotation and eye movement.
1. Extracellular recordings were obtained from 113 mossu fibers (MFs) in the flocculus of alert monkeys trained to perform a visual tracking task during sinusoidal, horizontal head rotation. The analysis of MF discharge patterns was designed to allow quantitative comparison of the discharge properties of flocculus MFs with brain stem cell populations from which the MFs might originate and with flocculus Purkinje cells (P-cells). Based on their firing patterns, MFs were divided into two classes. Vestibular MFs discharged in relation to head velocity and, in some cases, also in relation to eye movement. Eye movement MFs discharged only in relation to one or more components of eye movement. 2. Vestibular MFs were subdivided into three classes. Vestibular-only MFs (n = 15) displayed a modulation in firing rate during head rotation but exhibited no relationship to spontaneous eye movements. Vestibular-plus-saccade MFs (n = 14) displayed a modulation in firing rate during head rotation that quantitatively resembled the modulation in vestibular-only MFs. In addition, a pause in firing rate interrupted the vestibular modulation during saccades in one or more directions. Vestibular-plus-position MFs (n = 4) exhibited steady firing rates that were linearly related to horizontal eye position in the absence of vestibular stimulation. Sinusoidal head rotation evoked a modulation ofiring rate above and below the firing rate set by the eye position. 3. during sinusoidal head rotation, vestibular MF firing rate led head velocity by an average of 24 degrees. The amplitude of MF firing-rate modulation increased as a function of the frequency of head rotation and, hence, maximum head velocity. Since these characteristics are similar to those displayed by P-cells during suppression of the VOR, vestibular MFs probably transmit the head velocity component of P-cell firing rate to the flocculus. Based on evidence from other mammals and a quantitative comparison of population discharge characteristics, it is likely that vestibular MFs originate from the vestibular nerve and from cells in the medial vestibular nucleus. 4. Based on their discharge patterns, eye movement MFs were also subdivided into three classes. Burst MFs (n = 14) emitted a high-frequency burst of spikes prior to and during saccades in one or more direction, but were silent during steady fixation. Burst-tonic MFs (n = 53) emitted a burst of spikes prior to saccades in a preferred ("on") direction, ceased firing during saccades in the opposite ("off") direction, and exhibited steady firing rates that increased as steady gaze shifted in the on direction. Tonic MFs (n = 13) displayed steady firing rates that increased as the position of steady gaze shifted in the on direction, and either paused or exhibited step changes in firing rate during saccades. 5. During steady fixation, 64% of tonic and burst-tonic MFs were recruited into maintained firing within +/- 10 degrees of the primary direction of gaze...
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