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Soupiadou, Parthena; Branoner, Francisco; Straka, Hans ORCID: 0000-0003-2874-0441 (2018): Pharmacological profile of vestibular inhibitory inputs to superior oblique motoneurons. In: Journal of Neurology, Vol. 265: pp. 18-25
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Vestibulo-ocular reflexes (VOR) are mediated by three-neuronal brainstem pathways that transform semicircular canal and otolith sensory signals into motor commands for the contraction of spatially specific sets of eye muscles. The vestibular excitation and inhibition of extraocular motoneurons underlying this reflex is reciprocally organized and allows coordinated activation of particular eye muscles and concurrent relaxation of their antagonistic counterparts. Here, we demonstrate in isolated preparations of Xenopus laevis tadpoles that the discharge modulation of superior oblique motoneurons during cyclic head motion derives from an alternating excitation and inhibition. The latter component is mediated exclusively by GABA, at variance with the glycinergic inhibitory component in lateral rectus motoneurons. The different pharmacological profile of the inhibition correlates with rhombomere-specific origins of vestibulo-ocular projection neurons and the complementary segmental abundance of GABAergic and glycinergic vestibular neurons. The evolutionary conserved rhombomeric topography of vestibulo-ocular projections makes it likely that a similar pharmacological organization of inhibitory VOR neurons as reported here for anurans is also implemented in mammalian species including humans.