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Title: Implications of potassium channel heterogeneity for model vestibulo-ocular reflex response fidelity
Author: McGuinness, James
ISNI:       0000 0004 5347 2423
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2014
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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 involved. 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.
Supervisor: Graham, Bruce P. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Computational Neuroscience ; Compartmental Modelling ; Potassium Channels ; Population Modelling ; Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex ; Ion Channel Modelling