The adequate stimulus for avian short latency vestibular responses to linear translation

Timothy A. Jones, Sherri M. Jones, Stephen Colbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Transient linear acceleration stimuli have been shown to elicit eighth nerve vestibular compound action potentials in birds and mammals. The present study was undertaken to better define the nature of the adequate stimulus for neurons generating the response in the chicken (Gallus domesticus). In particular, the study evaluated the question of whether the neurons studied are most sensitive to the maximum level of linear acceleration achieved or to the rate of change in acceleration (da/dt, or jerk). To do this, vestibular response thresholds were measured as a function of stimulus onset slope. Traditional computer signal averaging was used to record responses to pulsed linear acceleration stimuli. Stimulus onset slope was systematically varied. Acceleration thresholds decreased with increasing stimulus onset slope (decreasing stimulus rise time). When stimuli were expressed in units of jerk (g/ms), thresholds were virtually constant for all stimulus rise times. Moreover, stimuli having identical jerk magnitudes but widely varying peak acceleration levels produced virtually identical responses. Vestibular response thresholds, latencies and amplitudes appear to be determined strictly by stimulus jerk magnitudes. Stimulus attributes such as peak acceleration or rise time alone do not provide sufficient information to predict response parameter quantities. Indeed, the major response parameters were shown to be virtually independent of peak acceleration levels or rise time when these stimulus features were isolated and considered separately. It is concluded that the neurons generating short latency vestibular evoked potentials do so as 'jerk encoders' in the chicken. Primary afferents classified as 'irregular', and which traditionally fall into the broad category of 'dynamic' or 'phasic' neurons, would seem to be the most likely candidates for the neural generators of short latency vestibular compound action potentials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-272
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Vestibular Research: Equilibrium and Orientation
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Birds
  • Evoked potential
  • Jerk
  • Jerk detection
  • Linear jerk
  • Macula
  • Macular velocity detection
  • Otolith
  • Pulsed acceleration
  • Pulsed jerk
  • Vestibular evoked potentials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Clinical Neurology

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