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Inhibitory reticular neurons related to the quick phase of vestibular nystagmus — Their location and projection

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The medial brain stem was explored mainly in the vicinity of the abducens nucleus to find interneurons related to the quick phase of vestibular nystagmus in the cat. Most neurons exhibiting a burst of spikes specifically at the quick phase of nystagmus directed to the ipsilateral side were found in the dorsomedial part of the reticular formation caudal to the abducens nucleus and lateral to the medial longitudinal fasciculus. The burst spikes were preceded by a negative field potential which was fairly localized in the above region. These neurons were activated antidromically from the contralateral and not from the ipsilateral abducens nucleus. The effective sites for antidromic activation showed a patch-like distribution in the abducens nucleus, indicating their axonal branching within the nucleus.

Simultaneous recording of spikes of these neurons and the field potential in the contralateral abducens nucleus showed that a spike burst of each neuron began fairly synchronously with the onset of steep positive field potential in the abducens nucleus at the quick inhibitory phase of motoneurons. Microstimulation at the region where these neurons were located induced monosynaptic IPSPs in the contralateral abducens motoneurons. It is thus postulated that these neurons are inhibitory in nature and cause the IPSPs in contralateral abducens motoneurons at the quick inhibitory phase of vestibular nystagmus. The burst inhibitory neurons were activated polysynaptically from the ipsilateral vestibular nerve and monosynaptically from the contralateral superior colliculus or the ipsilateral pontine reticular formation at the level of P2–P6.

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Hikosaka, O., Kawakami, T. Inhibitory reticular neurons related to the quick phase of vestibular nystagmus — Their location and projection. Exp Brain Res 27, 377–396 (1977). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00235511

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Key words

  • Vestibular nystagmus
  • Abducens motoneuron
  • Inhibitory neuron
  • Spike burst
  • Reticular formation