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J Neurophysiol. 2015 Jun 1;113(10):3893-904. doi: 10.1152/jn.00760.2014. Epub 2015 Apr 8.

Interactions between rostral and caudal cortical motor areas in the rat.

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Département de Neurosciences, Faculté de Médecine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada; and.
Département de Neurosciences, Faculté de Médecine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada; and Groupe de recherche sur le système nerveux central, Faculté de Médecine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada


In rats, forelimb movements can be evoked from two distinct cortical regions, the rostral (RFA) and the caudal (CFA) forelimb areas. RFA and CFA have numerous reciprocal connections, and their projections reach several common targets, which allows them to interact at multiple levels of the motor axis. Lesions affecting these areas result in profound and persistent deficits, supporting their essential role for the production of arm and hand movements. Whereas rats are widely used to study motor control and recovery following lesions, little is known as to how cortical motor areas in this model interact to generate movements. To study interactions between RFA and CFA, we used paired-pulse protocols with intracortical microstimulation techniques (ICMS). A conditioning stimulus (C) in RFA was applied simultaneously, or before a test stimulus (T) in CFA. The impact of RFA conditioning on CFA outputs was quantified by recording electromyographic signals (EMG) signals from the contralateral arm muscles. We found that stimulation of RFA substantially modulates the intensity of CFA outputs while only mildly affecting the latency. In general, the effect of RFA conditioning changed from predominantly facilitatory to inhibitory with increasing delays between the C and the T stimulus. However, inspection of individual cortical sites revealed that RFA has a wide range of influence on CFA outputs with each interstimulation delay we used. Our results show that RFA has powerful and complex modulatory effects on CFA outputs that can allow it to play a major role in the cortical control of forelimb movements.


arm; motor cortex; motor evoked potential; premotor

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