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Pyramidal Tract Neurons Receptive To Different Forelimb Joints Act Differently During Locomotion.

E. Stout, I. Beloozerova
Published 2012 · Psychology, Medicine

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During locomotion, motor cortical neurons projecting to the pyramidal tract (PTNs) discharge in close relation to strides. How their discharges vary based on the part of the body they influence is not well understood. We addressed this question with regard to joints of the forelimb in the cat. During simple and ladder locomotion, we compared the activity of four groups of PTNs with somatosensory receptive fields involving different forelimb joints: 1) 45 PTNs receptive to movements of shoulder, 2) 30 PTNs receptive to movements of elbow, 3) 40 PTNs receptive to movements of wrist, and 4) 30 nonresponsive PTNs. In the motor cortex, a relationship exists between the location of the source of afferent input and the target for motor output. On the basis of this relationship, we inferred the forelimb joint that a PTN influences from its somatosensory receptive field. We found that different PTNs tended to discharge differently during locomotion. During simple locomotion shoulder-related PTNs were most active during late stance/early swing, and upon transition from simple to ladder locomotion they often increased activity and stride-related modulation while reducing discharge duration. Elbow-related PTNs were most active during late swing/early stance and typically did not change activity, modulation, or discharge duration on the ladder. Wrist-related PTNs were most active during swing and upon transition to the ladder often decreased activity and increased modulation while reducing discharge duration. These data suggest that during locomotion the motor cortex uses distinct mechanisms to control the shoulder, elbow, and wrist.
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