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Prog Brain Res. 2004;143:77-95.

Key mechanisms for setting the input-output gain across the motoneuron pool.

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Department of Medical Physiology, Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen DK-2200, Denmark.


This chapter summarizes a number of factors that control the "input-output" function across the motoneurons (MNs) comprising a single spinal motor nucleus. The main focus is on intrinsic properties of individual MNs that can be controlled by neuromodulators. These include: (1) amplification of the synaptic input at the cell's dendritic level by voltage-gated, persistent inward currents (plateau potentials); and (2) transduction of the net synaptic excitation into a frequency code (the MN's stimulus current-spike frequency relation) at the cell's soma/initial segment. Two other aspects of the synaptic control of MNs, which may affect their input-output gain, are also discussed. They include the hypotheses that: (1) a non-uniform distribution of synaptic effects to low- and high-threshold motor units causes a change in recruitment gain; and (2) recurrent inhibition, via motor axon collaterals and Renshaw cells, functions as a variable gain regulator of MN discharge.

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