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Neuroscience. 2003;122(1):259-66.

Anatomical and physiological study of respiratory motor innervation in lampreys.

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Département de Kinanthropologie, Université du Québec à Montréal, C.P. 8888 Succ. Centre-ville, Montréal, Québec, H3C 3P8 Canada.


The innervation of gill muscles of lampreys was investigated in a semi-intact preparation in which the respiratory rhythm was maintained for more than 2 days. Lesion experiments showed that the muscles of gill 1 are innervated by nerves VII (facial) and IX (glossopharyngeal), and those of gill 2 by nerve IX and the first branchial branch of nerve X (vagal). The other gills are supplied by the other branchial branches of nerve X. Retrograde tracers, injected in peripheral respiratory nerves, showed that branchial muscles are innervated by VII, IX and X motoneurons. Within the X nucleus, the motoneuron pools were branchiotopically organized, but with considerable rostro-caudal overlap. Electrophysiological recordings were used to show that the onset of activation of the branchial muscles was increasingly delayed with the distance from the brainstem, but that motoneuronal activity recorded with surface electrodes began at approximately the same time in all pools. The conduction velocity of VII and caudal X motor axons was found to be the same. Differences in the length of motoneuron axons appear to account for the rostro-caudal delay in gill contraction. The data presented here provide a much needed anatomical and physiological basis for further studies on the neural network controlling respiration in lampreys.

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