Midbrain Control of Three-Dimensional Head Orientation

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Science  15 Feb 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5558, pp. 1314-1316
DOI: 10.1126/science.1067300

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Little is known about the neural mechanisms controlling head posture and why they fail in clinical syndromes like torticollis. It is well established, however, that the brain controls eye position by integrating eye velocity commands. By electrically stimulating and reversibly inactivating midbrain sites in the head-free (nonimmobilized) monkey, we found that the interstitial nucleus of Cajal functions as a neural integrator for head posture. We suggest that a bilateral imbalance in this structure, through either direct damage or inappropriate input, could be one of the mechanisms underlying torticollis.

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