Lobules 10 and 9 in the caudal posterior vermis [also known as nodulus and uvula (NU)] are thought important for spatial orientation and balance. Here, we characterize complex spike (CS) and simple spike (SS) activity in response to three-dimensional vestibular stimulation. The strongest modulation was seen during translation (CS: 12.8±1.5, SS: 287.0±23.2 spikes/s/G, 0.5 Hz). Preferred directions tended to cluster along the cardinal axes (lateral, fore-aft, vertical) for CSs and along the semicircular canal axes for SSs. Most notably, the preferred directions for CS/SS pairs arising from the same Purkinje cells were rarely aligned. During 0.5 Hz pitch/roll tilt, only about a third of CSs had significant modulation. Thus, most CSs correlated best with inertial rather than net linear acceleration. By comparison, all SSs were selective for translation and ignored changes in spatial orientation relative to gravity. Like SSs, tilt modulation of CSs increased at lower frequencies. CSs and SSs had similar response dynamics, responding to linear velocity during translation and angular position during tilt. The most salient finding is that CSs did not always modulate out-of-phase with SSs. The CS/SS phase difference varied broadly among Purkinje cells, yet for each cell it was precisely matched for the otolith-driven and canal-driven components of the response. These findings illustrate a spatiotemporal mismatch between CS/SS pairs and provide the first comprehensive description of the macaque NU, an important step toward understanding how CSs and SSs interact during complex movements and spatial disorientation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas