We used linear vestibular evoked potentials (VsEPs) to characterize peripheral and central vestibular function in birds following embryogenesis at 2G centrifugation or at elevated levels of vibration (+20dB re: background levels). Additionally, we characterized peripheral and central vestibular adaptation to 2G centrifugation in early post-hatch birds. Linear VsEP response peak latencies, amplitudes, thresholds and input/output functions were quantified and compared between experimental and control animals. Birds vibrated throughout embryogenesis and up to one-week post-hatch revealed no changes in linear VsEP response components compared to control siblings. Birds centrifuged at 2G throughout embryogenesis also evidenced no changes in the linear VsEP measured at hatch (P0). Significant changes were seen, however, for linear VsEPs of post-hatch birds placed at 2G for 7 days beginning on post-hatch day 5. Linear VsEPs for these animals displayed significant reductions in response amplitudes associated with peaks P2, N2 and P3, response peaks generated by central neural relays of gravity receptors. The earliest response components, generated by the peripheral vestibular nerve (i.e., P1, N1), were not significantly altered with the 7-day exposure to 2G. Thus, there was no evidence of generalized changes in peripheral gravity receptor excitability or in the rate of maturation in developing animals under increased levels of gravity or vibration. If gravity level plays a critical role in shaping peripheral vestibular ontogeny at magnitudes between 1 and 2G, then it may serve to stabilize function under changing G-fields or it may operate on physiological features that can not be resolved by the VsEP. In contrast, exposure to elevated gravity during post-hatch periods does alter central vestibular function thus providing direct evidence for central vestibular adaptation to the gravitational environment. The fact that central functional change was observed in hatchlings and not embryos, raises the possibility that the first 2-weeks post-hatch may be a critical period of "heightened developmental sensitivity" to hypergravity.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||14|
|Journal||Journal of gravitational physiology : a journal of the International Society for Gravitational Physiology|
|Publication status||Published - Dec 2000|
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