Compound gravity receptor polarization vectors evidenced by linear vestibular evoked potentials

Sherri M. Jones, Timothy A. Jones, Patricia L. Bell, Matthew J. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The utricle and saccule are gravity receptor organs of the vestibular system. These receptors rely on a high-density otoconial membrane to detect linear acceleration and the position of the cranium relative to Earth's gravitational vector. The linear vestibular evoked potential (VsEP) has been shown to be an effective non-invasive functional test specifically for otoconial gravity receptors (Jones et al., 1999). Moreover, there is some evidence that the VsEP can be used to independently test utricular and saccular function (Taylor et al., 1997; Jones et al., 1998). Here we characterize compound macular polarization vectors for the utricle and saccule in hatchling chickens. Pulsed linear acceleration stimuli were presented in two axes, the dorsoventral (DV, ±Z axis) to isolate the saccule, and the interaural (IA, ±Y axis) to isolate the utricle. Traditional signal averaging was used to resolve responses recorded from the surface of the skull. Latency and amplitude of eighth nerve components of the linear VsEP were measured. Gravity receptor responses exhibited clear preferences for one stimulus direction in each axis. With respect to each utricular macula, lateral translation in the IA axis produced maximum ipsilateral response amplitudes with substantially greater amplitude-intensity (AI) slopes than medially directed movement. Downward caudal motions in the DV axis produced substantially larger response amplitudes and AI slopes. The results show that the macula lagena does not contribute to the VsEP compound polarization vectors of the sacculus and utricle. The findings suggest further that preferred compound vectors for the utricle depend on the pars externa (i.e. lateral hair cell field) whereas for the saccule they depend on pars interna (i.e. superior hair cell fields). These data provide evidence that maculae saccule and utricle can be selectively evaluated using the linear VsEP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-61
Number of pages8
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Bird
  • Chicken
  • Otolith
  • Saccule
  • Utricle
  • Vestibular function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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