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Trigeminal integration of vestibular and forelimb nerve inputs.

F. Deriu, M. V. Podda, G. Chessa, E. Tolu


Experiments were carried out on anaesthetized guinea pigs to evaluate whether vestibular and somatosensory informations converge upon the same trigeminal motoneurones and, if so, how they interact in the modulation of their activity. It was found that excitatory responses occurred in these motoneurones when an appropriate electrical stimulation was applied to the common radial nerve. The same was true if the electrical stimulus was applied to the vestibular ampullae. In another set of experiments the stimulation was applied both to the vestibular ampullae and to the common radial nerve at various time-intervals. The amplitude of the motoneuronal responses to common radial nerve stimulation was reduced when preceded by a vestibular stimulation. The same was true when the sequence of stimulations was reversed: in this case there was a decrease in amplitude of the testing response to vestibular stimulation. The degree of these reductions depended upon the time-interval elapsed between the afferent stimulations. The maximal degree of depression was observed at 4-6 ms time-interval for conditioning vestibular stimulation and at 10-12 ms time-interval for conditioning radial nerve stimulation. It appears, therefore, that somatosensory and vestibular signals may modulate the activity of trigeminal motor units innervating masticatory muscles, suggesting that extratrigeminal afferents may control the contraction of these muscles.

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