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Depression of the vestibulo-ocular and optokinetic responses by intrafloccular microinjection of GABA-A and GABA-B agonists in the rabbit.

J. Van Neerven, O. Pompeiano, H. Collewijn


The functional implication of the cerebellar flocculus in regulation of the VOR and OKR gain has mostly been studied by lesion experiments, and the hypotheses derived from these experiments are not always in line with one another. In the present study, a reversible method was used to inhibit floccular Purkinje cells. The GABA-A agonist muscimol or the GABA-B agonist baclofen were bilaterally injected into the flocculus of rabbits, and the effects of these injections on the gain of the VOR and OKR were studied. Both drugs induced a reduction by at least 50% of the gain of the VOR in light and darkness, and of the OKR. Although GABA-A and GABA-B receptors are known to have different cerebellar localizations, muscimol and baclofen injections resulted in quantitatively similar effects. It is suggested that these GABA-agonists cause either direct or indirect inhibition of floccular Purkinje cells, thus reducing modulation of the firing rate of these neurons by afferent mossy and climbing fibers. Because the flocular Purkinje cells act out of phase with the vestibular neurons which drive the oculomotor neurons, a reduced output of floccular Purkinje cells would result in a reduction of the VOR and OKR gain. These experiments provide strong evidence that the cerebellar flocculus has a positive influence on the basic VOR and OKR gain.

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