In anaesthetized rats, the unitary activity from the medial vestibular nucleus had been recorded during horizontal sinusoidal rotation in the absence of visual stimulation. In the first series of experiments, the inferior olivary nuclei were selectively destroyed by means of 3-acetylpyridine. Unitary activity was recorded three to five days or one month after the lesion. A few days after the lesion, the average spontaneous activity, as well as the peak-to-peak amplitude of the modulation of the medial vestibular neurons during sinusoidal rotation, were significantly lower compared to those recorded in intact rats, and to those recorded one month after the lesion. In the second series of experiments, during reversible cooling of the inferior olive region of one side, in the contralateral medial vestibular nuclei 57% of units underwent a clear decrease in firing rate accompanied by a decrease in the amplitude of modulation. In rats whose inferior olivary nuclei had been destroyed by means of 3-acetylpyridine one month before, or whose cerebellum had been removed, there were few units that showed a decrease of the firing rate and modulation amplitude on cooling the same olivary region. Our experiments show that silencing the activity of the inferior olive causes a decrease both in the spontaneous firing rate and in the amplitude of the response of the vestibular neurons to natural labyrinthine stimulation. These results support the hypothesis that the inferior olive, by changing its firing rate, may regulate on-line the gain of reflexes which are under cerebellar control.
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