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Neuroscience. 2007 Feb 9;144(3):1120-32. Epub 2006 Nov 28.

Modulation of respiratory activity by locomotion in lampreys.

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Département de Physiologie, Université de Montréal, Casier Postal 6128, Succursale Centre-ville, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3C 3J7.


In vertebrates, locomotion is associated with changes in respiratory activity, but the neural mechanisms by which this occurs remain unknown. We began examining this in lampreys using a semi-intact preparation of young adult Petromyzon marinus, in which respiratory and locomotor behaviors can be recorded simultaneously with the activity of the underlying neural control systems. Spontaneous fictive respiration was recorded with suction electrodes positioned over the glossopharyngeal or the rostral vagal motor nucleus. In this preparation, locomotor activity, characterized by symmetrical tail movements (electromyogram recordings), was evoked by mechanical stimulation of the skin. During locomotion, the mean respiratory frequency and the mean area of the motor bursts were significantly increased (81.6+/-28.6% and 62.8+/-25.4%, respectively; P<0.05). The frequency returned to normal 92+/-51 s after the end of locomotion. There were fluctuations in the instantaneous respiratory and locomotor frequencies that were rhythmical but antiphasic for the two rhythmic activities. The changes in respiratory activity were also examined during bouts of locomotion occurring spontaneously, and it was found that a modification in respiratory activity preceded the onset of spontaneous locomotion by 3.5+/-2.6 s. This suggests that the early respiratory changes are anticipatory and are not caused by feedback generated by locomotion. The increase in respiratory frequency during locomotion induced by sensory stimulation persisted after removal of the mesencephalon. When both the mesencephalon and spinal cord were removed, resulting in the isolation of the rhombencephalon, changes in the respiratory activity were also present following skin stimulations that would have normally induced locomotion. Altogether, the results suggest that respiratory changes are programmed to adjust ventilation prior to motor activity, and that a central rhombencephalic mechanism is involved.

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