Short latency linear vestibular sensory evoked potentials (VsEPs) provide a means to objectively and directly assess the function of gravity receptors in mammals and birds. The importance of this functional measure is illustrated by its use in studies of the genetic basis of vestibular function and disease. Head motion is the stimulus for the VsEP. In the bird, it has been established that neurons mediating the linear VsEP respond collectively to the rate of change in linear acceleration during head movement (i.e. jerk) rather than peak acceleration. The kinematic element of motion responsible for triggering mammalian VsEPs has not been characterized in detail. Here we tested the hypothesis that jerk is the kinematic component of head motion responsible for VsEP characteristics. VsEP amplitudes and latencies changed systematically when peak acceleration level was held constant and jerk level was varied from ~0.9-4.6 g/ms. In contrast, responses remained relatively constant when kinematic jerk was held constant and peak acceleration was varied from ~0.9 to 5.5 g in mice and ~0.44 to 2.75 g in rats. Thus the mammalian VsEP depends on jerk levels and not peak acceleration. We conclude that kinematic jerk is the adequate stimulus for the mammalian VsEP. This sheds light on the behavior of neurons generating the response. The results also provide the basis for standardizing the reporting of stimulus levels, which is key to ensuring that response characteristics reported in the literature by many laboratories can be effectively compared and interpreted.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems