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Neuroscience. 1991;40(1):239-56.

Afferent control of central pattern generators: experimental analysis of scratching in the decerebrate cat.

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Department of Physiology of the Spinal Cord, A. A. Bogomoletz Institute of Physiology, Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian S.S.R., Kiev.


Systematic quantitative analysis of changes in the spinal scratching generator motor activity evoked by tonic and phasic peripheral afferent signals during "fictitious" scratching was carried out in the cat. Correlations between the kinematics of hindlimb scratching movement, sensory inflow, and primary afferent depolarization were investigated. Reliable correlations between the parameters of generator motor activity during fictitious scratching were revealed: they depended on tonic peripheral afferent inflow. The functional role of these dependencies consists of providing stability for aiming the hindlimb to the itch site. It was shown that scratching generator reaction to a phasic sensory signal depended significantly on afferent input, signal intensity, and its arrival phase in the cycle of motor activity. Phase correction of "scratching" rhythm was performed by inhibition of the current stage of "scratching" cycle, the inhibition magnitude depending on the intensity of a sensory signal run along high threshold afferent fibers. The moments in the scratching cycle, in which the afferent signal caused no rearrangement in scratching generator activity, were discovered for all investigated afferent inputs. These moments corresponded to the transitions from one scratching cycle phase to another. Integral afferent activity was distributed unevenly in the cycle during real scratching. The main part of it was observed just in that scratching cycle part which included the above mentioned no rearrangement phase points. The data obtained allowed us to conclude that the scratching generator should be considered as a working program for the motor optimal control system containing the intrinsic model of the controlled object dynamics (e.g. hindlimb scratching movement dynamics), which produces an inner analog of peripheral flow. This inner flow interacts with peripheral afferent inflow just as one of the latter components. Centrally originated modulation of primary afferent depolarization is a result of affecting the depolarization generating system by this inner "sensory" activity. It is the model, with the aid of which the generator can work after deafferentation. The functional organization of a central pattern generator is considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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