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Body position with respect to the head or body position in space is coded by lumbar interneurons.

  • Suzuki, I
  • Timerick, S J
  • Wilson, V J
Published Article
Journal of neurophysiology
Publication Date
Jul 01, 1985
PMID: 3875695


In decerebrate cats, we have studied the response of neurons in the L3-L6 segments of the spinal cord to stimulation of neck and vestibular receptors. Neck receptors were stimulated by head rotation in labyrinthectomized cats or by body rotation with the head fixed in labyrinth-intact cats. Vestibular receptors were stimulated by whole-body tilt in the latter preparation. Most neurons were located outside the motoneuron nuclei and were arbitrarily classified as interneurons. Combinations of roll and pitch stimuli at frequencies of 0.1 or 0.05 Hz were used to determine the horizontal component of the polarization vector, i.e., the best direction of tilt, for each neuron. Two types of stimuli were used; rotation of a fixed angle of tilt around the head or body ("wobble," Ref. 22) or sinusoidal stimuli in several planes. Polarization vectors of the responses to neck stimulation were widely distributed; different neurons responded best to roll, pitch, and angles in between. For every neuron, the amplitude of the response decreased as the cosine of the angle between the direction of maximal sensitivity and the plane of the stimulus. The direction of the vector remained stable as the frequency of stimulation was varied. Neurons with different vectors had similar dynamics that resembled those of cervical interneurons (27). Many neurons responded to both neck and vestibular stimulation, although the vestibular response usually had a much lower gain. Neck and vestibular vectors were approximately opposite in direction. We suggest that neck responses originate in receptors, probably spindles, in perivertebral muscles. Each of these muscles presumably is best stretched by a particular direction of pull. It seems likely that convergence from receptors in selected muscles determines the direction of a spinal neuron's vector. Vestibular responses probably are due mainly to activity in otolith afferents.

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