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J Neurophysiol. 1985 Nov;54(5):1228-70.

Trained slow tracking. II. Bidirectional discharge patterns of cerebellar nuclear, motor cortex, and spindle afferent neurons.


Single-unit discharge was recorded in the dentate and interposed cerebellar nuclei, motor cortex, and C7 and C8 dorsal root ganglia during trained, slow hold-ramp-hold tracking, rapid alternating movement, torque-pulse perturbation, and action tremor of the monkey's wrist. Fifty-seven dentate and 45 interposed neurons were found in two monkeys that discharged in relation to slow tracking movement. Nearly all neurons had a distinct bidirectional pattern of discharge consisting of an abrupt increase (or decrease) in firing frequency at or before the onset of movement that was variably maintained throughout the ramp and was independent of movement direction. None of the neurons showed a clear relationship to direction, position, velocity, or load during the performance of this task. Nevertheless, many of these neurons discharged in relation to rapid alternation and (for interpositus) torque pulses in patterns that were directionally reciprocal. Some interpositus neurons showed a modulation related to tremor superimposed on the bidirectional discharge related to slow ramps. Twenty-nine neurons in motor cortex of one monkey discharged during slow hold-ramp-hold tracking in two patterns. Class I neurons (14 of 29) showed gradually changing, directionally reciprocal modulations of firing frequency for movements in opposite directions. These neurons were often related to torque load and/or to wrist position but not to velocity. The discharge pattern was similar to the pattern of activity of forearm muscles. Class II neurons (15 of 29) showed an abrupt change in firing frequency that was bidirectional. They were often related to torque load and/or to velocity but not to position. Motor cortex neurons discharged in relation to rapid alternating movements, torque pulses, and tremor in similar patterns that did not distinguish the two classes. Five units in dorsal root ganglia were identified as muscle spindle afferents. During ramps, their pattern of discharge was bidirectional and resembled the bidirectional discharge patterns of neurons in motor cortex (class II) and cerebellum. For some cells the bidirectional pattern varied slightly in relation to the direction and velocity of movement and the amount of torque load, but it was not related to the large changes in wrist position (muscle length). Modulation in relation to tremor was superimposed on the bidirectional pattern related to ramps. The comparison of spindle afferent discharge with the concurrent electromyogram (EMG) of the parent muscle suggested that spindles were driven by gamma-fusimotor activity dissociated from that of homonymous alpha-skeletomotor neurons.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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