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The short latency vestibulo-collic reflex in humans is well-defined for only the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) neck muscle. However, other neck muscles also receive input from the balance organs and participate in neck stabilization. We therefore investigated the sound-evoked vestibular projection to the splenius capitis (SC) muscles by comparing surface and single motor unit responses in the SC and SCM muscles in 10 normal volunteers. We also recorded surface responses in patients with unilateral vestibular loss but preserved hearing and hearing loss but preserved vestibular function. The single motor unit responses were predominantly inhibitory and the strongest responses were recorded in the contralateral SC and ipsilateral SCM. In both cases there was a significant decrease or gap in single motor unit activity: in SC at 11.7 ms for 46/66 units, and in SCM at 12.7 ms for 51/58 motor units. There were fewer significant responses in the ipsilateral SC and contralateral SCM muscles, and they consisted primarily of weak increases in activity. Surface responses recorded over the contralateral SC were positive-negative during neck rotation, similar to the ipsilateral cervical vestibular evoked myogenic potential (cVEMP) in SCM. Responses in SC were present in the patients with hearing loss and absent in the patient with vestibular loss, confirming their vestibular origin. The results describe a pattern of inhibition consistent with the synergistic relationship between these muscles for axial head rotation, with the crossed vestibular projection to the contralateral SC being weaker than the ipsilateral projection to the SCM.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985)
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