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Straka, Hans ORCID: 0000-0003-2874-0441; Holler, Stefan; Goto, Fumiyuki; Kolb, F. P.; Gilland, Edwin (2003): Differential spatial organization of otolith signals in frog vestibular nuclei. In: Journal of Neurophysiology, Vol. 90, No. 5: pp. 3501-3512
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Activation maps of pre- and postsynaptic field potential components evoked by separate electrical stimulation of utricular, lagenar, and saccular nerve branches in the isolated frog hindbrain were recorded within a stereotactic outline of the vestibular nuclei. Utricular and lagenar nerve-evoked activation maps overlapped strongly in the lateral and descending vestibular nuclei, whereas lagenar amplitudes were greater in the superior vestibular nucleus. In contrast, the saccular nerve-evoked activation map coincided largely with the dorsal nucleus and the adjacent dorsal part of the lateral vestibular nucleus, corroborating a major auditory and lesser vestibular function of the frog saccule. The stereotactic position of individual second-order otolith neurons matched the distribution of the corresponding otolith nerve-evoked activation maps. Furthermore, particular types of second-order utricular and lagenar neurons were clustered with particular types of second-order canal neurons in a topology that anatomically mirrored the preferred convergence pattern of afferent otolith and canal signals in second-order vestibular neurons. Similarities in the spatial organization of functionally equivalent types of second-order otolith and canal neurons between frog and other vertebrates indicated conservation of a common topographical organization principle. However, the absence of a precise afferent sensory topography combined with the presence of spatially segregated groups of particular second-order vestibular neurons suggests that the vestibular circuitry is organized as a premotor map rather than an organotypical sensory map. Moreover, the conserved segmental location of individual vestibular neuronal phenotypes shows linkage of individual components of vestibulomotor pathways with the underlying genetically specified rhombomeric framework.