Central and peripheral components of short latency vestibular responses in the chicken

Andrea M. Nazareth, Timothy A. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Far-field recordings of short latency vestibular responses to pulsed cranial translation are composed of a series of positive and negative peaks occurring within 10 ms following stimulus onset. In the bird, these vestibular evoked potentials (VsEPs) can be recorded noninvasively and have been shown in the chicken and quail to depend strictly upon the activation of the vestibular component of the eighth nerve. The utility of the VsEP in the study of vestibular systems is dependent upon a clear understanding of the neural sources of response components. The primary aim of the current research in the chicken was to critically test the hypotheses that 1) responses are generated by both peripheral and central neurons and 2) peaks P1 and N1 originate from first order vestibular neurons, whereas later waves primarily depend on activity in higher order neurons. The principal strategy used here was to surgically isolate the eighth nerve as it enters the brainstem. Interruption of primary afferents of the eighth nerve in the brainstem substantially reduced or eliminated peaks beyond P2, whereas P1 and N1 were generally spared. Surgical sections that spared vestibular pathways had little effect on responses. The degree of change in response components beyond N1 was correlated with the extent of damage to central vestibular relays. These findings support the conclusion that responses are produced by both peripheral and central elements of the vestibular system. Further, response peaks later than N1 appear to be dependent upon central relays, whereas P1 and N1 reflect activity of the peripheral nerve. These findings clarify the roles of peripheral and central neurons in the generation of vestibular evoked potentials and provide the basis for a more useful and detailed interpretation of data from vestibular response testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-252
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Vestibular Research: Equilibrium and Orientation
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Bird
  • Evoked potential
  • Linear acceleration
  • Neural generators
  • VsEP, vestibular response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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