Contributions of Identifiable Neurons and Neuron Classes to Lamprey Vertebrate Neurobiology
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Progress in Neurobiology
Among the advantages offered by the lamprey brainstem and spinal cord for studies of the structure and function of the nervous system is the unique identifiability of several pairs of reticulospinal neurons in the brainstem. These neurons have been exploited in investigations of the patterns of sensory input to these cells and the patterns of their outputs to spinal neurons, but no doubt these cells could be used much more effectively in exploring their roles in descending control of the spinal cord. The variability of cell positions of neurons in the spinal cord has precluded the recognition of unique spinal neurons. However, classes of nerve cells can be readily defined and characterized within the lamprey spinal cord and this has led to progress in understanding the cellular and synaptic mechanisms of locomotor activity. In addition, both the identifiable reticulospinal cells and the various spinal nerve cell classes and their known synaptic interactions have been used to demonstrate the degree and specificity of regeneration within the lamprey nervous system. The lack of uniquely identifiable cells within the lamprey spinal cord has hampered progress in these areas, especially in gaining a full understanding of the locomotor network and how neuromodulation of the network is accomplished.