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Rössert, C.; Straka, Hans ORCID: 0000-0003-2874-0441 (2011): Interactions between intrinsic membrane and emerging network properties determine signal processing in central vestibular neurons. In: Experimental Brain Research, Vol. 210, No. 3/4: pp. 437-449
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Head/body motion-related sensory signals are transformed in second-order vestibular neurons (2A degrees VN) into commands for appropriate motor reactions that stabilize gaze and posture during locomotion. In all vertebrates, these neurons form functional subgroups with different membrane properties and response dynamics, compatible with the necessity to process a wide range of motion-related sensory signals. In frog, 2A degrees VN subdivide into two well-defined populations with distinctly different intrinsic membrane properties, discharge dynamics and synaptic response characteristics. Tonic 2A degrees VN form low-pass filters with membrane properties that cause synaptic amplification, whereas phasic 2A degrees VN form band-pass filters that cause shunting of repetitive inputs. The different, yet complementary, filter properties render tonic neurons suitable for integration and phasic neurons for differentiation and event detection. Specific insertion of phasic 2A degrees VN into local vestibular networks of inhibitory interneurons reinforces the functional consequences of the intrinsic membrane properties of this particular cell type with respect to the processing of afferent sensory signals. Thus, the combination of matching intrinsic cellular and emerging network properties generates sets of neuronal elements that form adjustable, frequency-tuned filter components for separate transformation of the various dynamic aspects of head motion-related signals. The overall frequency tuning of central vestibular neurons differs between vertebrates along with variations in species-specific locomotor dynamics, thereby illustrating an ecophysiological plasticity of the involved neuronal elements. Moreover, separation into multiple, dynamically different subtypes at any neuronal level along the vestibulo-motor reflex pathways suggests an organization of head motion-related sensory-motor transformation in parallel, frequency-tuned channels.