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Asymmetric operation of the locomotor central pattern generator in the neonatal mouse spinal cord

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The rhythmic voltage oscillations in motor neurons (MNs) during locomotor movements reflect the operation of the pre-MN central pattern generator (CPG) network. Recordings from MNs can thus be used as a method to deduct the organization of CPGs. Here, we use continuous conductance measurements and decomposition methods to quantitatively assess the weighting and phase tuning of synaptic inputs to different flexor and extensor MNs during locomotor-like activity in the isolated neonatal mice lumbar spinal cord preparation. Whole cell recordings were obtained from 22 flexor and 18 extensor MNs in rostral and caudal lumbar segments. In all flexor and the large majority of extensor MNs the extracted excitatory and inhibitory synaptic conductances alternate but with a predominance of inhibitory conductances, most pronounced in extensors. These conductance changes are consistent with a "push-pull" operation of locomotor CPG. The extracted excitatory and inhibitory synaptic conductances varied between 2 and 56% of the mean total conductance. Analysis of the phase tuning of the extracted synaptic conductances in flexor and extensor MNs in the rostral lumbar cord showed that the flexor-phase-related synaptic conductance changes have sharper locomotor-phase tuning than the extensor-phase-related conductances, suggesting a modular organization of premotor CPG networks consisting of reciprocally coupled, but differently composed, flexor and extensor CPG networks. There was a clear difference between phase tuning in rostral and caudal MNs, suggesting a distinct operation of CPG networks in different lumbar segments. The highly asymmetric features were preserved throughout all ranges of locomotor frequencies investigated and with different combinations of locomotor-inducing drugs. The asymmetric nature of CPG operation and phase tuning of the conductance profiles provide important clues to the organization of the rodent locomotor CPG and are compatible with a multilayered and distributed structure of the network.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftJournal of Neurophysiology
Vol/bind100
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)3043-3054
Antal sider12
ISSN0022-3077
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 1 dec. 2008

ID: 194978156