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Hypoglossal Neural Activity During Licking And Swallowing In The Awake Rat

J. B. Travers, L. M. Jackson

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1. Thirty-five neurons in the hypoglossal nucleus (mXII) of the rat were characterized during licking and swallowing in response to fluid stimulation in an awake, freely moving preparation. Simultaneously recorded electromyographic (EMG) recordings from a subset of oropharyngeal muscles were obtained to delineate both the lick cycle and the occurrence of swallows. Most mXII neurons discharged with rhythmic bursts in phase with licking. Twenty-six of the 35 mXII neurons had bimodal interspike interval (ISI) histograms, reflecting rhythmic bursts and the absence of spontaneous activity. Three mXII cells with unimodal ISI histograms were rhythmically active during licking but had some spontaneous activity. Of the remaining six cells with unimodal ISI histograms, five had nonbursting modes of activity. 2. Phase relationships between neural and EMG activity during licking were determined by cross-correlation and compared with distributions of cross-correlations between lingual and masticatory EMG activity. A bimodal distribution of cross-correlations was obtained by cross-correlating EMG activity between lingual protrudor muscles [genioglossus (GG) or geniohyoid (GH)] and masticatory jaw-opener activity [anterior digastric (AD)] and cross-correlating lingual retractor activity [styloglossus (STY)] with anterior digastric EMG. A similar bimodal distribution of cross-correlations obtained between mXII neuron activity and AD contractions suggested that the majority of mXII neurons (30/35) could be classified as protrudor- or retractor-related. Neurons classified as protrudor-related cells were located ventrally in mXII; cells classified as retractor-related were more dorsally located, consistent with anatomic and physiological descriptions of the myotopic organization of mXII. 3. Ten mXII protrudor-related neurons responded with a mean of 4.9 +/- 2.2 (SD) action potentials per lick cycle and preceded the peak jaw-opening phase of licking by a mean of 22.3 ms. In contrast, the activity of 20 retractor-related mXII neurons lagged the jaw-opening phase of licking by a mean of 55.9 ms, with a mean of 5.5 +/- 3.4 (SD) action potentials occurring per lick cycle. Five other mXII neurons exhibited nonrhythmic activity during licking and could not be classified as protrudor- or retractor-related on the basis of cross-correlations with the AD. 4. The occurrence of a swallow decreased the licking frequency by 21%, corresponding to an increase of approximately 43 ms in the period between AD contractions.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)