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The interstitial nucleus of Cajal of the cat. I. Neurons activity related to vertical eye movements.

M. Le Taillanter


Interstitial nucleus of Cajal (INC) neurons activity was studied during vertical optokinetic nystagmus (OKN) and after-nystagmus (OKAN) in awake cats lying on their right side. The activity of one hundred neurons was recorded in the left INC and analysed in relation with the vertical component of OKN and OKAN. The activity of 27 neurons was correlated either to eye position or to both eye velocity and eye position; 18 of these neurons were recorded in their on-direction and their off-direction. The analysis of the 18 neurons showed that the activity of 8 of them was correlated to eye position in the on-direction and in the off-direction and the correlation to eye position was higher than to eye velocity; these neurons are considered as position neurons. Seven other neurons had a higher correlation to eye position that to eye velocity in the on-direction and this relation reversed in the off-direction, these neurons are considered as position-velocity neurons. Thirty two burst-neurons were activated only during quick phases of OKN and OKAN and they were silent during slow phases and periods of fixation. Nine burst neurons had an upward on-direction and 23 neurons a downward on-direction. The eye velocity-average burst frequency (ABF) and quick phase duration-burst duration relationships had low correlations and suggested that INC burst neurons were excitatory premotor neurons. Statistical analysis showed that downward on-direction burst neurons had a higher ABF that upward on-direction burst neurons. Moreover, during OKN and OKAN, the velocity sensitivity of INC burst neurons was the same. The activity of the remaining neurons (41 neurons) was not quantitatively correlated to vertical and horizontal eye movements; they were classified as irregular tonic neurons. This study shows that INC neurons carry an eye position signal which was never reported before. This supports the results of INC lesion studies which showed that INC is involved in the vertical velocity to position integration. Moreover, there is an up versus down asymmetry in the frequency of INC burst neurons.

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