Implications of Potassium Channel Heterogeneity for Model Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex Response Fidelity - PhDData

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Implications of Potassium Channel Heterogeneity for Model Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex Response Fidelity

The thesis was published by McGuinness, James, in September 2022, University of Stirling.


The Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex (VOR) produces compensatory eye movements in response to head
and body rotations movements, over a wide range of frequencies and in a variety of dimensions.
The individual components of the VOR are separated into parallel pathways, each dealing with
rotations or movements in individual planes or axes. The Horizontal VOR (hVOR) compensates
for eye movements in the Horizontal plane, and comprises a linear and non-linear pathway. The
linear pathway of the hVOR provides fast and accurate compensation for rotations, the response
being produced through 3-neuron arc, producing a direct translation of detected head velocity to
compensatory eye velocity. However, single neurons involved in the middle stage of this 3-neuron
arc cannot account for the wide frequency over which the reflex compensates, and the response
is produced through the population response of the Medial Vestibular Nucleus (MVN) neurons
Population Heterogeneity likely plays a role in the production of high fidelity population
response, especially for high frequency rotations. Here we present evidence that, in populations
of bio-physical compartmental models of the MVN neurons involved, Heterogeneity across the
population, in the form of diverse spontaneous firing rates, improves the response fidelity of the
population over Homogeneous populations. Further, we show that the specific intrinsic membrane
properties that give rise to this Heterogeneity may be the diversity of certain slow voltage activated
Potassium conductances of the neurons. We show that Heterogeneous populations perform
significantly better than Homogeneous populations, for a wide range of input amplitudes and
frequencies, producing a much higher fidelity response. We propose that variance of Potassium
conductances provides a plausible biological means by which Heterogeneity arises, and that the
Heterogeneity plays an important functional role in MVN neuron population responses.
We discuss our findings in relation to the specific mechanism of Desynchronisation through
which the benfits of Heterogeneity may arise, and place those findings in the context of previous
work on Heterogeneity both in general neural processing, and the VOR in particular. Interesting
findings regarding the emergence of phase leads are also discussed, as well as suggestions for
future work, looking further at Heterogeneity of MVN neuron populations.

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