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Neuroscience. 2003;121(3):731-46.

Medullary reticulospinal tract mediating a generalized motor inhibition in cats: III. Functional organization of spinal interneurons in the lower lumbar segments.

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Department of Physiology, Asahikawa Medical College, Asahikawa, Japan.


The previous report of intracellular recording of hindlimb motoneurons in decerebrate cats [ 511] has suggested that the following mechanisms are involved in a generalized motor inhibition induced by stimulating the medullary reticular formation. First, the motor inhibition, which was prominent in the late latency (30-80 ms), can be ascribed to the inhibitory effects in parallel to motoneurons and to interneuronal transmission in reflex pathways. Second, both a group of interneurons receiving inhibition from flexor reflex afferents and a group of Ib interneurons mediate the late inhibitory effects upon the motoneurons. To substantiate the above mechanisms of motor inhibition we examined the medullary stimulus effects upon intracellular (n=55) and extracellular (n=136) activity of spinal interneurons recorded from the lower lumbar segments (L6-L7). Single pulses or stimulus trains (1-3) pulses, with a duration of 0.2 ms and intensity of 20-50 microA) applied to the medullary nucleus reticularis gigantocellularis evoked a mixture of excitatory and inhibitory effects with early (<20 ms) and late (>30 ms) latencies. The medullary stimulation excited 55 interneurons (28.8%) with a late latency. Thirty-nine of the cells, which included 10 Ib interneurons, were inhibited by volleys in flexor reflex afferents (FRAs). These cells were mainly located in lamina VII of Rexed. On the other hand, the late inhibitory effects were observed in 67 interneurons (35.1%), which included cells mediating reciprocal Ia inhibition, non-reciprocal group I (Ib) inhibition, recurrent inhibition and flexion reflexes. Intracellular recording revealed that the late inhibitory effects were due to inhibitory postsynaptic potentials with a peak latency of about 50 ms and a duration of 50-60 ms. The inhibitory effects were attenuated by volleys in FRAs. Neither excitatory nor inhibitory effects with a late latency were observed in 69 (36.1%) cells which were located in the intermediate region and dorsal horn. These results suggest the presence of a functional organization of the spinal cord with respect to the production of the generalized motor inhibition. Lamina VII interneurons that receive inhibition from volleys in FRAs possibly mediate the postsynaptic inhibition from the medullary reticular formation in parallel to motoneurons and to interneurons in reflex pathways.

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