Click-evoked responses in vestibular afferents in rats.J Neurophysiol. 2011 Aug; 106(2):754-63.JN
Sound activates not only the cochlea but also the vestibular end organs. Research on this phenomenon led to the discovery of the sound-evoked vestibular myogenic potentials recorded from the sternocleidomastoid muscles (cervical VEMP, or cVEMP). Since the cVEMP offers simplicity and the ability to stimulate each labyrinth separately, its values as a test of human vestibular function are widely recognized. Currently, the cVEMP is interpreted as a test of saccule function based on the assumption that clicks primarily activate the saccule. However, sound activation of vestibular end organs other than the saccule has been reported. To provide the neural basis for interpreting clinical VEMP testing, we employed the broadband clicks used in clinical VEMP testing to examine the sound-evoked responses in a large sample of vestibular afferents in Sprague-Dawley rats. Recordings were made from 924 vestibular afferents from 106 rats: 255 from the anterior canal (AC), 202 from the horizontal canal (HC), 177 from the posterior canal (PC), 207 from the superior vestibular nerve otolith (SO), and 83 from the inferior nerve otolith (IO). Sound sensitivity of each afferent was quantified by computing the cumulative probability of evoking a spike (CPE). We found that clicks activated irregular afferents (normalized coefficient of variation of interspike intervals >0.2) from both the otoliths (81%) and the canals (43%). The order of end organ sound sensitivity was SO = IO > AC > HC > PC. Since the sternocleidomastoid motoneurons receive inputs from both the otoliths and the canals, these results provide evidence of a possible contribution from both of them to the click-evoked cVEMP.