Spinal Locomotor Inputs to Individually Identified Reticulospinal Neurons in the Lamprey
Journal of Neurophysiology
Locomotor feedback signals from the spinal cord to descending brain stem neurons were examined in the lamprey using the uniquely identifiable reticulospinal neurons, the Müller and Mauthner cells. The same identified reticulospinal neurons were recorded in several preparations, under reduced conditions, to address whether an identified reticulospinal neuron shows similar locomotor-related oscillation timing from animal to animal and whether these timing signals can differ significantly from other identified reticulospinal neurons. Intracellular recordings of membrane potential in identified neurons were made in an isolated brain stem-spinal cord preparation with a high-divalent cation solution on the brain stem to suppress indirect neural pathways and with d-glutamate perfusion to the spinal cord to induce fictive swimming. Under these conditions, the identified reticulospinal neurons show significant clustering of the timings of the peaks and troughs of their locomotor-related oscillations. Whereas most identified neurons oscillated in phase with locomotor bursting in ipsilateral ventral roots of the rostral spinal cord, the B1 Müller cell, which has an ipsilateral descending axon, and the Mauthner cell, which has a contralateral descending axon, both had oscillation peaks that were out of phase with the ipsilateral ventral roots. The differences in oscillation timing appear to be due to differences in synaptic input sources as shown by cross-correlations of fast synaptic activity in pairs of Müller cells. Since the main source of the locomotor input under these experimental conditions is ascending neurons in the spinal cord, these experiments suggest that individual reticulospinal neurons can receive locomotor signals from different subsets of these ascending neurons. This result may indicate that the locomotor feedback signals from the spinal locomotor networks are matched in some way to the motor output functions of the individual reticulospinal neurons, which include command signals for turning and for compensatory movements.