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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Physiologic characteristics of vestibular first-order canal neurons in the cat. I. Response plane determination and resting discharge characteristics.

The response plane and resting rate characteristics of first-order, vestibular, semicircular canal neurons were studied in 67 cats under sodium pentobarbital anesthesia using single-unit recording techniques in the eighth nerve. Five hundred fifty-nine units were classified as to the canal they were associated with by employing an identification technique based on physiologic response patterns to brief, high-level (up to 250 degrees/S2) angular accelerations delivered in various head positions. All horizontal canal neurons had increased firing rates to ampullopetal and all vertical canal units to ampullofugal endolymph flow. The average observed roll and pitch null points for each canal were used to determine the average sensitivity vectors for the right horizontal, anterior, and posterior canals. These sensitivity vectors were at a variance of 4.6-10.2 degrees from those predicted by anatomical measurements (3). The mean resting discharge characteristics of 318 first-order neurons was 36.0 spikes/s (range 0.50-114 spikes/s). No significant difference was noted between horizontal and anterior canal neurons on horizontal and anterior canal neurons on the basis of resting rate. The resting rate of the posterior canal neuron population was significantly lower. The regularity of the resting discharge varied in all three canals and the average coefficient of variation was 0.238 for the population, with a range of 0.298-1.030. The population distribution of all resting-rate statistical parameters appeared to be unimodal, indicating that first-order canal neurons may not be broken into discrete populations on the basis of resting-rate characteristics. Of 47 adequately examined first-order canal neurons, 25 demonstrated a repeatable and predictable alteration in their resting discharge as their position to gravity was reoriented. This alteration was usually nonadapting and varied in magnitude according to the degree of tilt and original starting position. Of 25 canal gravity units, 4 had nearby units from the same canal which were unresponsive to gravity, suggesting the effect was due to a limited distortion of the crista or cupula rather than an overall displacement of the cupula.[1]


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