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Exp Brain Res. 2006 Aug;173(1):25-39. Epub 2006 Feb 28.

Bilateral actions of the reticulospinal tract on arm and shoulder muscles in the monkey: stimulus triggered averaging.

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  • 1Neuroscience Graduate Studies Program, The Ohio State University, 1583 Perry Street, Rm 516G, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


The motor output of the pontomedullary reticular formation (PMRF) was investigated to determine the reticulospinal system's capacity for bilateral control of the upper limbs. Stimulus triggered electromyographic averages (StimulusTA) were constructed from muscles of both upper limbs while two awake monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) performed a reaching task using either arm. Extensor and flexor muscles were studied at the wrist, elbow, and shoulder; muscles acting on the scapula were also studied. Post-stimulus effects (PStEs) resulted from 435 (81%) of 535 sites tested. Of 1611 PStEs analyzed, 58% were post-stimulus suppression (PStS), and 42% were post-stimulus facilitation (PStF). Onset latency was earlier for PStF than PStS, duration was longer for PStS, and amplitude was larger for PStF. Ipsilateral and contralateral PStEs were equally prevalent; bilateral responses were typical. In the ipsilateral forelimb and shoulder, the prevalent pattern was flexor PStF and extensor PStS; the opposite pattern was prevalent contralaterally. Sites producing strong ipsilateral upper trapezius PStF were concentrated in a region caudal and ventral to abducens. The majority of muscles studied had no clear somatotopic organization. Overall, the results indicate the monkey PMRF has the capacity to support bilateral coordination of limb movements using reciprocal actions within a limb and between sides.

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