A microthermistor positioned close to the exposed posterior semicircular canal in isolated labyrinth preparations of the frog was used to stimulate the sensory organ. Our results indicated that, depending on the position of the heater, the induced endolymphatic convection currents may result in either excitatory or inhibitory cupular deflections and thus in a modulation of ampullar receptor resting activity. Other possible thermal-dependent mechanisms, such as a direct action of the stimulus on vestibular sensors or endolymphatic volume changes, had, in the present experimental conditions, a minor role. Caloric stimulation could therefore represent a novel method to stimulate the semicircular canals 'in situ'.
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