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Nonvisual complex spike signals in the rabbit cerebellar flocculus

Publication year 2014
Published in Journal of Neuroscience
Authors B.H. Winkelman, Tim Belton, Minah Suh, Michiel Coesmans, Menno M Morpurgo, John I Simpson

In addition to the well-known signals of retinal image slip, floccular complex spikes (CSs) also convey nonvisual signals. We recorded eye movement and CS activity from Purkinje cells in awake rabbits sinusoidally oscillated in the dark on a vestibular turntable. The stimulus frequency ranged from 0.2 to 1.2 Hz, and the velocity amplitude ranged from 6.3 to 50°/s. The average CS modulation was evaluated at each combination of stimulus frequency and amplitude. More than 75% of the Purkinje cells carried nonvisual CS signals. The amplitude of this modulation remained relatively constant over the entire stimulus range. The phase response of the CS modulation in the dark was opposite to that during the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) in the light. With increased frequency, the phase response systematically shifted from being aligned with contraversive head velocity toward peak contralateral head position. At fixed frequency, the phase response was dependent on peak head velocity, indicating a system nonlinearity. The nonvisual CS modulation apparently reflects a competition between eye movement and vestibular signals, resulting in an eye movement error signal inferred from nonvisual sources. The combination of this error signal with the retinal slip signal in the inferior olive results in a net error signal reporting the discrepancy between the actual visually measured eye movement error and the inferred eye movement error derived from measures of the internal state. The presence of two error signals requires that the role of CSs in models of the floccular control of VOR adaption be expanded beyond retinal slip.

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