The properties of synaptic transmission have been studied at the cyto-neural junction of the frog labyrinth posterior canal by examining excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) activity recorded intraaxonally from the afferent nerve after abolishing spike firing by tetrodotoxin. The waveform, amplitude, and rate of occurrence of the EPSPs have been evaluated by means of a procedure of fluctuation analysis devised to continuously monitor these parameters, at rest as well as during stimulation of the semicircular canal by sinusoidal rotation at 0.1 Hz, with peak accelerations ranging from 8 to 87 deg.s-2. Responses to excitatory and inhibitory accelerations were quantified in terms of maximum and minimum EPSP rates, respectively, as well as total numbers of EPSPs occurring during the excitatory and inhibitory half cycles. Excitatory responses were systematically larger than inhibitory ones (asymmetry). Excitatory responses were linearly related either to peak acceleration or to its logarithm, and the same occurred for inhibitory responses. In all units examined, the asymmetry of the response yielded nonlinear two-sided input-output intensity functions. Silencing of EPSPs during inhibition (rectification) was never observed. Comparison of activity during the first cycle of rotation with the average response over several cycles indicated that variable degrees of adaptation (up to 48%) characterize the excitatory response, whereas no consistent adaptation was observed in the inhibitory response. All fibers appeared to give responses nearly in phase with angular velocity, at 0.1 Hz, although the peak rates generally anticipated by a few degrees the peak angular velocity. From the data presented it appears that asymmetry, adaptation, and at least part of the phase lead in afferent nerve response are of presynaptic origin, whereas rectification and possible further phase lead arise at the encoder. To confirm these conclusions a simultaneous though limited study of spike firing and EPSP activity has been attempted in a few fibers.

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