Differences in the Structure and Function of the Vestibular Efferent System Among Vertebrates

Kathleen E. Cullen, Rui Han Wei

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The role of the mammalian vestibular efferent system in everyday life has been a long-standing mystery. In contrast to what has been reported in lower vertebrate classes, the mammalian vestibular efferent system does not appear to relay inputs from other sensory modalities to the vestibular periphery. Furthermore, to date, the available evidence indicates that the mammalian vestibular efferent system does not relay motor-related signals to the vestibular periphery to modulate sensory coding of the voluntary self-motion generated during natural behaviors. Indeed, our recent neurophysiological studies have provided insight into how the peripheral vestibular system transmits head movement-related information to the brain in a context independent manner. The integration of vestibular and extra-vestibular information instead only occurs at next stage of the mammalian vestibular system, at the level of the vestibular nuclei. The question thus arises: what is the physiological role of the vestibular efferent system in mammals? We suggest that the mammalian vestibular efferent system does not play a significant role in short-term modulation of afferent coding, but instead plays a vital role over a longer time course, for example in calibrating and protecting the functional efficacy of vestibular circuits during development and aging in a role analogous the auditory efferent system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number684800
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Volume15
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 23 2021

Keywords

  • efference copy
  • evolution
  • multimodal
  • neural coding
  • perception
  • somatosensory
  • vestibular
  • visual

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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