In wave-type weakly electric fish, two distinct types of primary afferent fibers are specialized for separately encoding modulations in the amplitude and phase (timing) of electrosensory stimuli. Time-coding afferents phase lock to periodic stimuli and respond to changes in stimulus phase with shifts in spike timing. Amplitude-coding afferents fire sporadically to periodic stimuli. Their probability of firing in a given cycle, and therefore their firing rate, is proportional to stimulus amplitude. However, the spike times of time-coding afferents are also affected by changes in amplitude; similarly, the firing rates of amplitude-coding afferents are also affected by changes in phase. Because identical changes in the activity of an individual primary afferent can be caused by modulations in either the amplitude or phase of stimuli, there is ambiguity regarding the information content of primary afferent responses that can result in ‘phantom’ modulations not present in an actual stimulus. Central electrosensory neurons in the hindbrain and midbrain respond to these phantom modulations. Phantom modulations can also elicit behavioral responses, indicating that ambiguity in the encoding of amplitude and timing information ultimately distorts electrosensory perception. A lack of independence in the encoding of multiple stimulus attributes can therefore result in perceptual illusions. Similar effects may occur in other sensory systems as well. In particular, the vertebrate auditory system is thought to be phylogenetically related to the electrosensory system and it encodes information about amplitude and timing in similar ways. It has been well established that pitch perception and loudness perception are both affected by the frequency and intensity of sounds, raising the intriguing possibility that auditory perception may also be affected by ambiguity in the encoding of sound amplitude and timing.
electrosensory; electric organ discharge; jamming avoidance response; sensory integration; perception; illusion
Previous studies have shown that monoamines may modulate operation of spinal neuronal networks by depressing or facilitating responses of the involved neurons. Recently, activation of interneurons mediating reciprocal inhibition from muscle spindle (Ia) afferents and nonreciprocal inhibition from muscle spindle and tendon organ (Ia/Ib) afferents in the cat was found to be facilitated by noradrenaline (NA). However, which subclass membrane receptors are involved in mediating this facilitation was not established; the aim of the present experiments was to investigate this. Individual Ia- and Ia/Ib-inhibitory interneurons were identified in the cat lumbar spinal cord, and NA agonists were applied close to these neurons by ionophoresis. The agonists included the α1-receptor agonist phenylephrine, the α2-receptor agonists clonidine and tizanidine, and the β-receptor agonist isoproterenol. Effects were measured by comparing changes in the number of extracellularly recorded spike potentials evoked by electrical stimulation of muscle nerves and changes in the latency of these potentials before, during, and after application of the tested compounds. Results show that the facilitatory effect of phenylephrine is as strong as that of NA, whereas the facilitatory effect of isoproterenol is weaker. Clonidine depressed activity of both Ia- and Ia/Ib-inhibitory interneurons, whereas tizanidine had no effect. These findings lead to the conclusion that beneficial antispastic effects of clonidine and tizanidine in humans are unlikely to be associated with an enhancement of the actions of Ia- and Ia/Ib-inhibitory interneurons, and the findings also support previous proposals that these compounds exert their antispastic actions via effects on other neuronal populations.
spinal cord; spinal reflexes; cat; group I afferents; spasticity; noradrenaline; clonidine; tizanidine; phenylephrine; isoproterenol
If volume flow was measured at each end of an arterial segment with no branches, any instantaneous differences would indicate that volume was increasing or decreasing transiently within the segment. This concept could provide an alternative method to assess the mechanical properties or distensibility of an artery noninvasively using ultrasound. The goal of this study was to determine the feasibility of using Doppler measurements of pulsatile velocity (as opposed to flow) at two sites to estimate the volume pulsations of the intervening arterial segment. To test the concept over a wide range of dimensions, we made simultaneous measurements of velocity in a short 5 mm segment of a mouse common carotid artery and in a longer 20 cm segment of a human brachial-radial artery using a two-channel 20 MHz pulsed Doppler, and calculated the waveforms and magnitudes of the volume pulsations during the cardiac cycle. We also estimated pulse wave velocity from the velocity upstroke arrival times and measured artery wall motion using tissue Doppler methods for comparison of magnitudes and waveforms. Volume pulsations estimated from Doppler velocity measurements were 16% for the mouse carotid artery and 4% for the human brachial artery. These values are consistent with the measured pulse wave velocities of 4.2 m/s and 10 m/s respectively and with the mouse carotid diameter pulsation. In addition, the segmental volume waveforms resemble diameter and pressure waveforms as expected. We conclude that with proper application and further validation, dual Doppler velocity measurements can be used to estimate the magnitude and waveform of volume pulsations of an arterial segment and to provide an alternative noninvasive index of arterial mechanical properties.
blood flow velocity; Doppler ultrasound; vascular compliance; pulse wave velocity
Twenty-eight mechanoreceptive units identified as primary or secondary spindle afferents were sampled from muscle nerve fascicles in the median, peroneal, and tibial nerves of healthy adult subjects. The responses of these units to sustained passive muscle stretch, to passive stretching movements, to tendon taps, and electrically-induced muscle twitches were studied while the subject performed repeated Jendrassik manoeuvres involving strong voluntary contractions in distant muscle groups. The manoeuvres had no effect upon the afferent spindle discharges as long as there were no EMG signs of unintentional contractions occurring in the receptor-bearing muscle and no mechanotransducer signs of unintentional positional changes altering the load on that muscle. Unintentional contractions in the receptor-bearing muscle frequently occurred during the manoeuvres, however, and then coactivation of the spindle afferents was observed. Multiunit afferent responses to Achilles tendon taps, led off from tibial nerve fascicles, were in a similar way uninfluenced by the Jendrassik manoeuvres, even when these resulted in marked reinforcement of the calf muscle tendon jerk. The results provide no evidence for fusimotor sensitization of spindles in muscles remaining relaxed during the Jendrassik manoeuvre, and reflex reinforcement occurring without concomitant signs of active tension rise in the muscles tested is presumed to depend upon altered processing of the afferent volleys within the cord.
Muscle spindles provide proprioceptive feedback supporting normal patterns of motor activity and kinesthetic sensibility. During mastication, jaw muscle spindles play an important role in monitoring and regulating the chewing cycle and the bite forces generated during mastication. Both acute and chronic orofacial pain disorders are associated with changes in proprioceptive feedback and motor function. Experimental jaw muscle pain also alters the normal response of masseter spindle afferents to ramp and hold jaw movements . It has been proposed that altered motor function and proprioceptive input results from group III muscle afferent modulation of the fusimotor system which alters spindle afferent sensitivity in limb muscles. The response to nociceptive stimuli may enhance or reduce the response of spindle afferents to proprioceptive stimuli. Several experimental observations suggesting the possibility that a similar mechanism also functions in jaw muscles are presented in this report. First, evidence is provided to show that nociceptive stimulation of the masseter muscle primarily influences the amplitude sensitivity of spindle afferents with relatively little effect on the dynamic sensitivity . Second, reversible inactivation of the caudal trigeminal nuclei attenuates the nociceptive modulation of spindle afferents. Finally, functionally identified gamma-motoneurons in the trigeminal motor nucleus are modulated by intramuscular injection with algesic substances. Taken together, these results suggest that pain-induced modulation of spindle afferent responses are mediated by small diameter muscle afferents and that this modulation is dependent, in part, on the relay of muscle nociceptive information from trigeminal subnucleus caudalis onto trigeminal gamma-motoneurons. The implication of these results will be considered in light of current theories on the relationship between jaw muscle pain and oral motor function.
Muscle spindle afferents; Masseter muscle; Pain; Proprioception; Rats
In the present study, the hypothesis that sex-related differences in glutamate-evoked rat masseter muscle afferent discharge may result from estrogen-related modulation of peripheral NMDA receptor activity and/or expression was tested by examining afferent fiber discharge in response to masseter injection of NMDA and the expression of NR2A/B subunits by masseter ganglion neurons in male and female rats. The results showed that injection of NMDA into the masseter muscle evoked discharges in putative mechanonociceptive afferent fibers and increased blood pressure that was concentration-dependent, however, a systemic action of NMDA appeared responsible for increased blood pressure. NMDA-evoked afferent discharge was significantly greater in female than in male rats, was positively correlated with plasma estrogen levels in females and was significantly greater in ovariectomized female rats treated with a high dose (5 μg/day) compared to a low dose (0.5 μg/day) of estrogen. Pre-treatment of high dose estrogen-treated-ovariectomized female rats with the Src tyrosine kinase inhibitor PP2 did not affect NMDA-evoked afferent discharge. NMDA-evoked afferent discharge was attenuated by the antagonists ketamine and ifenprodil, which is selective for NR2B containing NMDA receptors. Fewer masseter ganglion neurons expressed the NR2A (16%) subunit as compared with the NR2B subunit (38%), which was expressed at higher frequencies in intact female (46%) and high dose estrogen-treated ovariectomized female (60%) rats than in male (31%) rats. Taken together, these results suggest that sex-related differences in NMDA-evoked masseter afferent discharge are due, at least in part, to an estrogen-mediated increase in expression of peripheral NMDA receptors by masseter ganglion neurons in female rats.
Nociception; Craniofacial; Estrogen; Temporomandibular; Sex; Trigeminal
Two factors, the ETS transcription factor ER81 and skeletal muscle-derived neurotrophin-3 (NT3), are essential for the formation of muscle spindles and the function of spindle afferent–motoneuron synapses in the spinal cord. Spindles either degenerate completely or are abnormal, and spindle afferents fail to project to spinal motoneurons in Er81 null mice; however, the interactions between ER81 and NT3 during the processes of afferent neuron and muscle spindle development are poorly understood. To examine if overexpression of NT3 in muscle rescues spindles and afferent–motoneuron connectivity in the absence of ER81, we generated myoNT3;Er81−/− double-mutant mice that selectively overexpress NT3 in muscle in the absence of ER81. Spindle reflex arcs in myoNT3;Er81−/− mutants differed greatly from Er81 null mice. Muscle spindle densities were greater and more afferents projected into the ventral spinal cord in myoNT3;Er81−/− mice. Spindles of myoNT3;Er81−/− muscles responded normally to repetitive muscle taps, and the monosynaptic inputs from Ia afferents to motoneurons, grossly reduced in Er81−/− mutants, were restored to wild-type levels in myoNT3;Er81−/− mice. Thus, an excess of muscle-derived NT3 reverses deficits in spindle numbers and afferent function induced by the absence of ER81. We conclude that muscle-derived NT3 can modulate spindle density and afferent–motoneuron connectivity independently of ER81.
muscle spindles; sensory neurons; motor neurons; neurotrophins; NT3; ETS transcription factors; ER81; mutant mice
We used microelectrode recordings of muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) from the peroneal nerve in the leg during arm exercise in conscious humans to test the concept that central command and muscle afferent reflexes produce mass sympathetic discharge at the onset of exercise. Nonischemic rhythmic handgrip and mild arm cycling produced graded increases in heart rate and arterial pressure but did not increase MSNA, whereas ischemic handgrip and moderate arm cycling dramatically increased MSNA. There was a slow onset and offset of the MSNA responses, which suggested metaboreceptor mediation. When forearm ischemia was continued after ischemic handgrip, MSNA remained elevated (muscle chemoreflex stimulation) but heart rate returned to control (elimination of central command). The major new conclusions are that: the onset of dynamic exercise does not produce mass, uniform sympathetic discharge in humans, and muscle chemoreflexes and central command appear to produce differential effects on sympathetic and parasympathetic responses.
The contribution of the fusimotor system to reflex reinforcement such as the Jendrassik manoeuvre was investigated by recording single unit activity with tungsten electrodes from muscle spindle afferent nerves in unanaesthetized normal human subjects. Muscle spindle afferent activity was recorded before, during, and after the reinforcement test. When the leg muscles remained relaxed during the Jendrassik manoeuvre, spindle activity recorded in the tibial nerve was accelerated. Also in the median nerve, activity from muscle spindle afferent fibres was increased during a remote contraction of the ipsilateral quadriceps muscle. Comparing the time course of the phasic reflex reinforcement and the muscle spindle facilitation during the remote contraction, a marked after-effect was recorded in both responses. Present results show an increased spontaneous muscle spindle activity in relaxed muscles during a remote muscle contraction, and provide evidence for the contribution of the fusimotor system to the enhancement of phasic reflexes by reinforcement manoeuvres.
Objective and Background
The characteristic throbbing quality of migraine pain is often attributed to the periodic activation of trigeminovascular sensory afferents triggered by the distension of cranial arteries during systole, but direct evidence for this model has been elusive.
Design and Methods
Patients with throbbing migrainous pain were asked to signal in real time the occurrences of their subjective experience of pulsating pain, during which time their arterial pulse was independently monitored.
Overall, the throbbing pain rate (61.7 ± 5.5 SEM) was substantially slower than the arterial pulse rate (80 ± 2.6 SEM, p < .02), and among the few individuals in whom the two rates were the same or nearly the same, the occurrences of throbbing and arterial pulsations fell in and out of phase with each other.
The lack of a simple correspondence between the subjective experience of throbbing pain and the arterial pulse would at the very least require extensive refinement of the prevailing view that the subjective experience of throbbing migraine pain is directly related to the distension of cranial arteries and activation of associated sensory afferents.
The experiments reported in this paper tested the hypothesis that the afferent potential elicited by a tendon tap in an isometrically recorded phasic stretch reflex can be detected in the surface EMG of normal humans when appropriate techniques are used. These techniques involved (1) training the subjects to relax mentally and physically so that the EMG was silent before and immediately after the diphasic MAP which reflects a highly synchronous discharge of afferent impulses from low threshold muscle stretch receptors after a tendon tap, and (2) using a data retrieval computer to summate stimulus-locked potentials in the EMG over a series of 16 samples using taps of uniform peak force and duration on the Achilles tendon to elicit the tendon jerk in the calf muscles. A discrete, diphasic potential (`A-wave') was recorded from EMG electrodes placed on the surface of the skin over the medial gastrocnemius muscle. The `A-wave' afferent potential had the opposite polarity to the corresponding efferent MAP. Under control conditions of relaxation the `A-wave' had a latency after the onset of the tap of 2 msec, the peak to peak amplitude was of the order of 5 μV and the duration was in the range of 6 to 10 msec. Further experiments were conducted to show that the `A-wave' (1) was not an artefact of the instrumentation used, (2) had a threshold at low intensities of stimulation, and (3) could be reliably augmented by using a Jendrassik manoeuvre compared with the potential observed during control (relaxation) conditions. The results support the conclusion that the `A-wave' emanates from the pool of muscle spindles which discharges impulses along group Ia nerve fibres in response to the phasic stretch stimulus because the primary ending of the spindles is known to initiate the stretch reflex and the spindles can be sensitized by fusimotor impulses so that their threshold is lowered as a result of a Jendrassik manoeuvre. The finding has important implications for the investigation of the fusimotor system in intact man.
Despite the clinical significance of muscle pain, and the extensive investigation of the properties of muscle afferent fibers, there has been little study of the ion channels on sensory neurons that innervate muscle. In this study, we have fluorescently tagged sensory neurons that innervate the masseter muscle, which is unique because cell bodies for its muscle spindles are in a brainstem nucleus (mesencephalic nucleus of the 5th cranial nerve, MeV) while all its other sensory afferents are in the trigeminal ganglion (TG). We examine the hypothesis that certain molecules proposed to be used selectively by nociceptors fail to express on muscle spindles afferents but appear on other afferents from the same muscle.
MeV muscle afferents perfectly fit expectations of cells with a non-nociceptive sensory modality: Opiates failed to inhibit calcium channel currents (ICa) in 90% of MeV neurons, although ICa were inhibited by GABAB receptor activation. All MeV afferents had brief (1 msec) action potentials driven solely by tetrodotoxin (TTX)-sensitive Na channels and no MeV afferent expressed either of three ion channels (TRPV1, P2X3, and ASIC3) thought to be transducers for nociceptive stimuli, although they did express other ATP and acid-sensing channels. Trigeminal masseter afferents were much more diverse. Virtually all of them expressed at least one, and often several, of the three putative nociceptive transducer channels, but the mix varied from cell to cell. Calcium currents in 80% of the neurons were measurably inhibited by μ-opioids, but the extent of inhibition varied greatly. Almost all TG masseter afferents expressed some TTX-insensitive sodium currents, but the amount compared to TTX sensitive sodium current varied, as did the duration of action potentials.
Most masseter muscle afferents that are not muscle spindle afferents express molecules that are considered characteristic of nociceptors, but these putative muscle nociceptors are molecularly diverse. This heterogeneity may reflect the mixture of metabosensitive afferents which can also signal noxious stimuli and purely nociceptive afferents characteristic of muscle.
The mechanisms controlling the formation of synaptic connections between muscle spindle afferents and spinal motor neurons are believed to be regulated by factors originating from muscle spindles. Here, we find that the connections form with appropriate specificity in mice with abnormal spindle development caused by the conditional elimination of the neuregulin1 receptor ErbB2 from muscle precursors. However, despite a modest (~30%) decrease in the number of afferent terminals on motor neuron somata, the amplitude of afferent-evoked synaptic potentials recorded in motor neurons was reduced by ~80%, suggesting that many of the connections that form are functionally silent. The selective elimination of neurotrophin 3 (NT3) from muscle spindles had no effect on the amplitude of afferent-evoked ventral root potentials until the second postnatal week, revealing a late role for spindle-derived NT3 in the functional maintenance of the connections. These findings indicate that spindle-derived factors regulate the strength of the connections, but not their initial formation or their specificity.
Muscle Spindle; Sensorimotor; Development; Glutamate transporters; knockout mice; Motoneuron [Motor Neuron]
Recordings from thin-film Longitudinal Intra-Fascicular Electrodes (tfLIFE) together with a wavelet-based de-noising and a correlation-based spike sorting algorithm, give access to firing patterns of muscle spindle afferents. In this study we use a point process probability structure to assess mechanical stimulus-response characteristics of muscle spindle spike trains. We assume that the stimulus intensity is primarily a linear combination of the spontaneous firing rate, the muscle extension, and the stretch velocity.
By using the ability of the point process framework to provide an objective goodness of fit analysis, we were able to distinguish two classes of spike clusters with different statistical structure. We found that spike clusters with higher SNR have a temporal structure that can be fitted by an inverse Gaussian distribution while lower SNR clusters follow a Poisson-like distribution. The point process algorithm is further able to provide the instantaneous intensity function associated with the stimulus-response model with the best goodness of fit.
This important result is a first step towards a point process decoding algorithm to estimate the muscle length and possibly provide closed loop Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) systems with natural sensory feedback information.
Single unit activity in spindle afferent nerve fibres from the finger flexors, the anterior tibial muscle, and the calf muscles was recorded intraneurally with tungsten microelectrodes in patients with Parkinsonism with resting tremor and in spastic patients with clonus. During tremor of Parkinsonism, involving the receptor bearing muscles, the Ia afferent fibre discharge patterns were similar to those seen previously in healthy subjects during voluntary fast alternating finger or foot movements: besides the stretch discharges occurring during the relaxation phases, discharges also occurred during the contraction phases. Such contraction discharges, presumed to originate from intrafusal muscle fibre contractions, were not seen in the spastic patients during clonus. During the clonic oscillations each afferent stretch discharge was regularly followed by a stretch reflex contraction which on its falling phase elicited a new volley of impulses in the Ia afferent fibres. The findings are considered to support the notion that, like the contractions in normal voluntary alternating movements, the contractions in tremor of Parkinsonism are organized according to the principle of alpha-gamma coactivation, whereas the contractions in clonus are stretch reflexes causing pure alpha contractions.
This study describes the myosin composition of extrafusal and intrafusal muscle fibers found in the human thyroarytenoid (TA) and sternohyoid (control) muscles. We sought to determine the presence of muscle spindles in the TA muscle, and to identify unusual extrafusal fiber types, using the commonly accepted approach of tissue stainng with myosin isoform specific antibodies. Extrafusal fibers are organized into motor units, which subsequently produce muscle movement, whereas intrafusal fibers compose muscle spindles, the primary stretch receptor that provides afferent (feed back) information to the nervous system for regulation of motor unit length and tonicity. Immunohistochemical identification of muscle spindles was confirmed in sternohyoid, but not in TA samples; however, some extrafusal fibers contained tonic myosin. These results indicate that human TA muscle functions similar to some mammalian extraocular muscle, performing unloaded (non-weight bearing) contractions without afferent information from native muscle spindles.
Muscle spindles; Human thyroarytenoid muscle; Myosin heavy chain; Intrafusal fibers
Single unit activity in primary spindle afferent nerve fibres from finger and foot flexors was recorded with tungsten microelectrodes inserted into the median and peroneal nerves of healthy subjects. During voluntary fast alternating finger and foot movements, simulating the tremor of Parkinsonism, two types of discharges were seen in the Ia afferent fibres: (1) stretch responses occurring during the flexor relaxation phases, and (2) discharges occurring during the flexor contraction phases. Contrary to the stretch responses the spindle contraction discharges could be eliminated by a partial lidocaine block of the muscle nerve proximal to the recording site, indicating that they resulted from fusimotor activation of intrafusal fibres. On the basis of the temporal relations between the beginning and end of individual EMG-bursts, the start of the spindle contraction discharges and the latency of the stretch reflex in the muscles concerned, the following conclusions were drawn: the recurrent extrafusal contractions in movements of this type are initiated by the fast direct alpha route, but individual contraction phases generally last long enough to be influenced subsequently by the coactivated fusimotor loop through the spindles. It is postulated that this gamma loop influence during alternating movements helps to keep flexor and extensor muscles working in a regular reciprocal fashion with contractions adjusted in strength to the external loads.
Understanding deep muscle pain is of increasing importance for evaluating clinical pathologic pain states. Previously, a central role of deep muscle tissue in the development of ongoing pain behavior after incision was demonstrated. The underlying mechanisms, however, remain unclear. Using a new in vitro plantar flexor digitorum brevis (FDB) muscle-nerve preparation, we investigated properties of mechanosensitive group III and IV afferents innervating incised and unincised muscle, and explored potential mediators of afferent excitation after incision. Afferents of uninjured muscle had a low incidence (14.3%) of ongoing activity. A high proportion (65.8%) of afferents responded to heat and a minority, 20.8%, were activated by pH 6.0 lactic acid. Incision increased the prevalence of afferents with ongoing to 54.7%. A greater proportion of group III and IV afferents responded to pH 6.0 lactic acid after incision compared to control (55.4% vs. 20.8%). Sensitization of afferents to heat and mechanical stimulation was prominent in group IV afferents after incision; both heat (38.0 °C vs. 40.5 °C in control) and mechanical response threshold (median: 5.0 mN vs. 22.0 mN in control) were decreased. The finding that incision increased ongoing activity of muscle afferents is consistent with our previous in vivo studies and supports the idea that deep muscle tissue has a prominent role in the genesis of ongoing pain after incision. The enhanced chemosensitivity of muscle afferents to lactic acid after incision suggests an increased response to an ischemic mediator may contribute to pain and hyperalgesia caused by surgery in deep tissues.
incision; peripheral sensitization; chemosensitive; hyperalgesia
Temporal coding of spike-times using oscillatory mechanisms allied to spike-time dependent plasticity could represent a powerful mechanism for neuronal communication. However, it is unclear how temporal coding is constructed at the single neuronal level. Here we investigate a novel class of highly regular, metronome-like neurones in the rat brainstem which form a major source of cerebellar afferents. Stimulation of sensory inputs evoked brief periods of inhibition that interrupted the regular firing of these cells leading to phase-shifted spike-time advancements and delays. Alongside phase-shifting, metronome cells also behaved as band-pass filters during rhythmic sensory stimulation, with maximal spike-stimulus synchronisation at frequencies close to the idiosyncratic firing frequency of each neurone. Phase-shifting and band-pass filtering serve to temporally align ensembles of metronome cells, leading to sustained volleys of near-coincident spike-times, thereby transmitting synchronised sensory information to downstream targets in the cerebellar cortex.
A study of activity recorded with intracellular micropipettes was undertaken in the caudal abdominal ganglion of the crayfish in order to gain information about central fiber to fiber synaptic mechanisms. This synaptic system has well developed integrative properties. Excitatory post-synaptic potentials can be graded, and synaptic potentials from different inputs can sum to initiate spike discharge. In most impaled units, the spike discharge fails to destroy the synaptic potential, thereby allowing sustained depolarization and multiple spike discharge following single pulse stimulation to an afferent input. Some units had characteristics which suggest a graded threshold for spike generation along the post-synaptic fiber membrane. Other impaled units responded to afferent stimulation with spike discharges of two distinct amplitudes. The smaller or "abortive" spikes in such units may represent non-invading activity in branches of the post-synaptic axon. On a few occasions one afferent input was shown to inhibit the spike discharge initiated by another presynaptic input.
We utilized an in vitro adult mouse extensor digitorum longus (EDL) nerve-attached preparation to characterize the responses of muscle spindle afferents to ramp-and-hold stretch and sinusoidal vibratory stimuli. Responses were measured at both room (24°C) and muscle body temperature (34°C). Muscle spindle afferent static firing frequencies increased linearly in response to increasing stretch lengths to accurately encode the magnitude of muscle stretch (tested at 2.5%, 5% and 7.5% of resting length [Lo]). Peak firing frequency increased with ramp speeds (20% Lo/sec, 40% Lo/sec, and 60% Lo/sec). As a population, muscle spindle afferents could entrain 1:1 to sinusoidal vibrations throughout the frequency (10–100 Hz) and amplitude ranges tested (5–100 µm). Most units preferentially entrained to vibration frequencies close to their baseline steady-state firing frequencies. Cooling the muscle to 24°C decreased baseline firing frequency and units correspondingly entrained to slower frequency vibrations. The ramp component of stretch generated dynamic firing responses. These responses and related measures of dynamic sensitivity were not able to categorize units as primary (group Ia) or secondary (group II) even when tested with more extreme length changes (10% Lo). We conclude that the population of spindle afferents combines to encode stretch in a smoothly graded manner over the physiological range of lengths and speeds tested. Overall, spindle afferent response properties were comparable to those seen in other species, supporting subsequent use of the mouse genetic model system for studies on spindle function and dysfunction in an isolated muscle-nerve preparation.
The temporal coincidence of sleep spindles and spike-and-wave discharges (SWDs) in patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsies, together with the transformation of spindles into SWDs following intramuscular injection of the weak GABAA receptor (GABAAR) antagonist, penicillin, in an experimental model, brought about the view that SWDs may represent ‘perverted’ sleep spindles. Over the last 20 years, this hypothesis has received considerable support, in particular by in vitro studies of thalamic oscillations following pharmacological/genetic manipulations of GABAARs. However, from a critical appraisal of the evidence in absence epilepsy patients and well-established models of absence epilepsy it emerges that SWDs can occur as frequently during wakefulness as during sleep, with their preferential occurrence in either one of these behavioural states often being patient dependent. Moreover, whereas the EEG expression of both SWDs and sleep spindles requires the integrity of the entire cortico-thalamo-cortical network, SWDs initiates in cortex while sleep spindles in thalamus. Furthermore, the hypothesis of a reduction in GABAAR function across the entire cortico-thalamo-cortical network as the basis for the transformation of sleep spindles into SWDs is no longer tenable. In fact, while a decreased GABAAR function may be present in some cortical layers and in the reticular thalamic nucleus, both phasic and tonic GABAAR inhibitions of thalamo-cortical neurons are either unchanged or increased in this epileptic phenotype. In summary, these differences between SWDs and sleep spindles question the view that the EEG hallmark of absence seizures results from a transformation of this EEG oscillation of natural sleep.
Epilepsy; Cortex; Thalamus; Nucleus reticularis thalami; GABA receptors
Presynaptic inhibition of transmission between Ia afferent terminals and alpha motoneurons (Ia PSI) is a major control mechanism associated with soleus H-reflex modulation during human locomotion. Rhythmic arm cycling suppresses soleus H-reflex amplitude by increasing segmental Ia PSI. There is a reciprocal organization in the human nervous system such that arm cycling modulates H-reflexes in leg muscles and leg cycling modulates H-reflexes in forearm muscles. However, comparatively little is known about mechanisms subserving the effects from leg to arm. Using a conditioning-test (C-T) stimulation paradigm, the purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that changes in Ia PSI underlie the modulation of H-reflexes in forearm flexor muscles during leg cycling. Subjects performed leg cycling and static activation while H-reflexes were evoked in forearm flexor muscles. H-reflexes were conditioned with either electrical stimuli to the radial nerve (to increase Ia PSI; C-T interval = 20 ms) or to the superficial radial (SR) nerve (to reduce Ia PSI; C-T interval = 37–47 ms). While stationary, H-reflex amplitudes were significantly suppressed by radial nerve conditioning and facilitated by SR nerve conditioning. Leg cycling suppressed H-reflex amplitudes and the amount of this suppression was increased with radial nerve conditioning. SR conditioning stimulation removed the suppression of H-reflex amplitude resulting from leg cycling. Interestingly, these effects and interactions on H-reflex amplitudes were observed with subthreshold conditioning stimulus intensities (radial n., ∼0.6×MT; SR n., ∼ perceptual threshold) that did not have clear post synaptic effects. That is, did not evoke reflexes in the surface EMG of forearm flexor muscles. We conclude that the interaction between leg cycling and somatosensory conditioning of forearm H-reﬂex amplitudes is mediated by modulation of Ia PSI pathways. Overall our results support a conservation of neural control mechanisms between the arms and legs during locomotor behaviors in humans.
We investigate the effects of blood flow and extravascular tissue shearing on diffusing-wave spectroscopy (DWS) signals from deep tissue, using an ex vivo porcine kidney model perfused artificially at controlled arterial pressure and flow. Temporal autocorrelation functions g(1)(τ) of the multiply scattered light field show a decay which is described by diffusion for constant flow, with a diffusion coefficient scaling linearly with volume flow rate. Replacing blood by a non-scattering fluid reveals a flow-independent background dynamics of the extravascular tissue. For a sinusoidally driven perfusion, field autocorrelation functions g(1)(τ, t′) depend on the phase t′ within the pulsation cycle and are approximately described by diffusion. The effective diffusion coefficient Deff(t′) is modulated at the driving frequency in the presence of blood, showing coupling with flow rate; in the absence of blood, Deff(t′) is modulated at twice the driving frequency, indicating shearing of extravascular tissue as the origin of the DWS signal. For both constant and pulsatile flow the contribution of extravascular tissue shearing to the DWS signal is small.
(030.6140) Speckle; (170.0170) Medical optics and biotechnology; (170.1470) Blood or tissue constituent monitoring; (170.5280) Photon migration; (290.1990) Diffusion; (290.1350) Backscattering; (290.4210) Multiple Scattering; (290.7050) Turbid media
After peripheral nerve injuries to a motor nerve the axons of motoneurons and proprioceptors are disconnected from the periphery and monosynaptic connections from group I afferents and motoneurons become diminished in the spinal cord. Following successful reinnervation in the periphery, motor strength, proprioceptive sensory encoding, and Ia afferent synaptic transmission on motoneurons partially recover. Muscle stretch reflexes, however, never recover and motor behaviors remain uncoordinated. In this review, we summarize recent findings that suggest that lingering motor dysfunction might be in part related to decreased connectivity of Ia afferents centrally. First, sensory afferent synapses retract from lamina IX causing a permanent relocation of the inputs to more distal locations and significant disconnection from motoneurons. Second, peripheral reconnection between proprioceptive afferents and muscle spindles is imperfect. As a result, a proportion of sensory afferents that retain central connections with motoneurons might not reconnect appropriately in the periphery. A hypothetical model is proposed in which the combined effect of peripheral and central reconnection deficits might explain the failure of muscle stretch to initiate or modulate firing of many homonymous motoneurons.
stretch reflex; spinal cord; plasticity; motor control; adult