It has been recently demonstrated that some primary otolith afferents and most otolith-related vestibular nuclei neurons encode two spatial dimensions that can be described by two vectors in temporal and spatial quadrature. These cells are called broadly-tuned neurons. They are characterized by a non-zero tuning ratio which is defined as the ratio of the minimum over the maximum sensitivity of the neuron. Broadly-tuned neurons exhibit response gains that do not vary according to the cosine of the angle between the stimulus direction and the cell's maximum sensitivity vector and response phase values that depend on stimulus orientation. These responses were observed during stimulation with pure linear acceleration and can be explained by spatio-temporal convergence (STC) of primary otolith afferents and/or otolith hair cells. Simulations of STC of the inputs to primary otolith afferents and vestibular nuclei neurons have revealed interesting characteristics: First, in the case of two narrowly-tuned input signals, the largest tuning ratio is achieved when the input signals are of equal gain. The smaller the phase difference between the input vectors, the larger the orientation differences that are required to produce a certain tuning ratio. Orientation and temporal phase differences of 30-40° create tuning ratios of approximately 0.10-0.15 in target neurons. Second, in the case of multiple input signals, the larger the number of converging inputs, the smaller the tuning ratio of the target neuron. The tuning ratio depends on the number of input units, as long as there are not more than about 10. For more than 10-20 input vectors, the tuning ratio becomes almost independent of the number of inputs. Further, if the inputs comprise two populations (with different gain and phase values at a given stimulus frequency), the largest tuning ratio is obtained when the larger population has a smaller gain. These findings are discussed in the context of known anatomical and physiological characteristics of innervation patterns of primary otolith afferents and their possible convergence onto vestibular nuclei neurons.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Computer Science(all)