Corticoreticular pathways in the cat. II. Discharge activity of neurons in area 4 during voluntary gait modifications.


:We propose that the descending command from area 4 that is responsible, in part, for the change in limb trajectory required to step over an obstacle in one's path also plays a role in triggering the anticipatory postural modifications that accompany this movement. To test this hypothesis, we recorded the discharge characteristics of identified classes of corticofugal neurons in area 4 of the cat. Neurons were identified either as: pryamidal tract neurons (PTNs) if their axon projected to the caudal pyramidal tract (PT) but not to the pontomedullary reticular formation (PMRF); as corticoreticular neurons (CRNs) if their axon projected to the PMRF but not to the PT; and as PTN/CRNs if their axon projected to both structures. Altogether, the discharge properties of 212 corticofugal neurons (109 PTNs, 66 PTN/CRNs, and 37 CRNs) within area 4 were recorded during voluntary gait modifications. Neurons in all three classes showed increases in their discharge frequency during locomotion and included groups that increased their discharge either during the swing phase of the modified step, during the subsequent stance phase, or in the stance phase of the cycle preceding the step over the obstacle. A slightly higher percentage of CRNs (39%) discharged in the stance phase prior to the gait modification than did the PTNs or PTN/CRNs (20% and 17% respectively). In 37 electrode penetrations, we were able to record clusters of 3 or more neurons within 500 micro(m) of each other. In most cases, PTN/CRNs recorded in close proximity to PTNs had similar receptive fields and discharged in a similar, but not identical, manner during the gait modifications. Compared with adjacent PTNs, CRNs normally showed a more variable pattern of activity and frequently discharged earlier in the step cycle than did the PTNs or PTN/CRNs. We interpret the results as providing support for the original hypothesis. We suggest that the collateral branches to the PMRF from corticofugal neurons with axons that continue at least as far as the caudal PT provide a signal that could be used to trigger dynamic postural responses that are appropriately organized and scaled for the movements that are being undertaken. We suggest that the more variable and earlier discharge activity observed in CRNs might be used to modify the postural support on which the movements and the dynamic postural adjustments are superimposed.


J Neurophysiol


Kably B,Drew T




Has Abstract


1998-07-01 00:00:00












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