The most medial of the deep cerebellar nuclei, the fastigial nucleus (FN), receives sensory vestibular information and direct inhibition from the cerebellar vermis. We investigated the signal processing in the primate FN by recording single-unit activities during translational motion, rotational motion, and eye movements. Firing rate modulation during horizontal plane translation in the absence of eye movements was observed in all non-eye-movement-sensitive cells and 26% of the pursuit eye-movement-sensitive neurons in the caudal FN. Many non-eye-movement-sensitive cells recorded in the rostral FN of three fascicularis monkeys exhibited convergence of signals from both the otolith organs and the semicircular canals. At low frequencies of translation, the majority of these rostral FN cells changed their firing rates in phase with head velocity rather than linear acceleration. As frequency increased, FN vestibular neurons exhibited a wide range of response dynamics with most cells being characterized by increasing phase leads as a function of frequency. Unlike cells in the vestibular nuclei, none of the rostral FN cells responded to rotational motion alone, without simultaneously exhibiting sensitivity to translational motion. Modulation during earth-horizontal axis rotation was observed in more than half (77%) of the neurons, although with smaller gains than during translation. In contrast, only 47% of the cells changed their firing rates during earth-vertical axis rotations in the absence of a dynamic linear acceleration stimulus. These response properties suggest that the rostral FN represents a main processing center of otolith-driven information for inertial motion detection and spatial orientation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas