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1.  Trunk Muscle Reflex Amplitudes Increased in Patients With Subacute, Recurrent LBP Treated With a 10-Week Stabilization Exercise Program 
Motor control  2012;17(1):1-17.
Altered trunk muscle reflexes have been observed in patients with low back pain (LBP). Altered reflexes may contribute to impaired postural control, and possibly recurrence of LBP. Specific stabilization exercise (SSE) programs have been shown to decrease the risk of LBP recurrence in a select group of patients with acute, first episode LBP. It is not known if trunk muscle reflex responses improve with resolution of subacute, recurrent LBP when treated with a SSE program. A perturbation test was used to compare trunk muscle reflexes in patients with subacute, recurrent LBP, before and after 10 weeks of a SSE program and a group of matched control subjects (CNTL). The LBP group pre therapy had delayed trunk muscle reflexes compared with the CNTL group. Post therapy reflex latencies remained delayed, but amplitudes increased. Increased reflex amplitudes could limit excessive movement of the spine when perturbed; potentially helping prevent recurrence.
PMCID: PMC3881973  PMID: 22964879
stabilization exercise; low back pain; sudden loading; reflex amplitude; multifidus
2.  Establishing an Imaging Protocol for Detection of Vascularity within the Median Nerve Using Contrast-Enhanced Ultrasound 
Journal of diagnostic medical sonography : JDMS  2013;29(5):10.1177/8756479313503211.
This preclinical study was conducted to develop discrete sonographic instrumentation settings and also safe contrast dosing that would consistently demonstrate perineural vascularity along the median nerve. This set of imaging studies was conducted with a convenience cohort of young adult female monkeys (Macaca fascicularis). Sonographic equipment settings and dosing were refined throughout the imaging series to ensure consistent contrast-enhanced ultrasound imaging. A mechanical index of 0.13 was consistently used for imaging. Perineural vessels were imaged with a suspension solution of 0.04 mL Definity/0.96 mL saline introduced over 5 minutes for a total dose of 0.8 mL of contrast solution. Blinded studies of high and low dose contrast, along with saline injections, were correctly identified by two experienced sonographers. This preclinical study established adequate equipment settings and dosing that allowed for a valid demonstration of vascularity surrounding the median nerve.
doi:10.1177/8756479313503211
PMCID: PMC3825188  PMID: 24236299
contrast-enhanced ultrasound; intraneural vascularity; perineural vascularity
3.  Recruitment of ipsilateral and contralateral upper limb muscles following stimulation of the cortical motor areas in the monkey 
It is well established that cortical motor stimulation results in contralateral upper limb (UL) activity. Motor responses are also elicited in the ipsilateral UL, though controversy surrounds the significance of these effects. Evidence suggests that ipsilateral muscle activity is more common following the stimulation of the supplementary motor area (SMA) and dorsal premotor area (PMd), compared to the primary motor cortex (M1), but none of these studies compared effects from all three areas in the same subjects. This has limited our understanding of how these three cortical motor areas influence ipsilateral UL muscle activity. The purpose of this study was to determine the contribution of each of three cortical areas to the production of ipsilateral and contralateral UL. To maximize sensitivity and allow comparison of the effects across cortical areas, we applied the same stimulation parameters (36 pulse stimulus train at 330 Hz) to M1, SMA, and PMd in three adult M. fascicularis and recorded electromyographic (EMG) activity from muscles in the trunk and both ULs. Of all muscle responses identified, 24 % were ipsilateral to the stimulation, mostly in proximal muscles. The highest percentage of ipsilateral responses occurred following SMA stimulation. We also observed that PMd stimulation elicited more suppression responses compared with stimulation of M1 and SMA. The results indicate that ipsilateral motor areas provide a significant contribution to cortical activation of the trunk and proximal UL muscles. These understudied pathways may represent a functional substrate for future strategies to shape UL recovery following injury or stroke.
doi:10.1007/s00221-013-3639-5
PMCID: PMC3778999  PMID: 23852324
Reaching; Motor control; Corticospinal; Stimulus trains
4.  Characterization of recovered walking patterns and motor control after contusive spinal cord injury in rats 
Brain and Behavior  2012;2(5):541-552.
Currently, complete recovery is unattainable for most individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI). Instead, recovery is typically accompanied by persistent sensory and motor deficits. Restoration of preinjury function will likely depend on improving plasticity and integration of these impaired systems. Eccentric muscle actions require precise integration of sensorimotor signals and are predominant during the yield (E2) phase of locomotion. Motor neuron activation and control during eccentric contractions is impaired across a number of central nervous system (CNS) disorders, but remains unexamined after SCI. Therefore, we characterized locomotor recovery after contusive SCI using hindlimb (HL) kinematics and electromyographic (EMG) recordings with specific consideration of eccentric phases of treadmill (TM) walking. Deficits in E2 and a caudal shift of locomotor subphases persisted throughout the 3-week recovery period. EMG records showed notable deficits in the semitendinosus (ST) during yield. Unlike other HL muscles, recruitment of ST changed with recovery. At 7 days, the typical dual-burst pattern of ST was lost and the second burst (ST2) was indistinct. By 21 days, the dual-burst pattern returned, but latencies remained impaired. We show that ST2 burst duration is highly predictive of open field Basso, Beattie, Bresnahan (BBB) scores. Moreover, we found that simple changes in locomotor specificity which enhance eccentric actions result in new motor patterns after SCI. Our findings identify a caudal shift in stepping kinematics, irregularities in E2, and aberrant ST2 bursting as markers of incomplete recovery. These residual impairments may provide opportunities for targeted rehabilitation.
doi:10.1002/brb3.71
PMCID: PMC3489807  PMID: 23139900
Kinematics; locomotion; rehabilitation; spinal cord injury
5.  Measuring the motor output of the pontomedullary reticular formation in the monkey: do stimulus-triggered averaging and stimulus trains produce comparable results in the upper limbs? 
The pontomedullary reticular formation (PMRF) of the monkey produces motor outputs to both upper limbs. EMG effects evoked from stimulus-triggered averaging (StimulusTA) were compared with effects from stimulus trains to determine whether both stimulation methods produced comparable results. Flexor and extensor muscles of scapulothoracic, shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints were studied bilaterally in two male M. fascicularis monkeys trained to perform a bilateral reaching task. The frequency of facilitation versus suppression responses evoked in the muscles was compared between methods. Stimulus trains were more efficient (94% of PMRF sites) in producing responses than StimulusTA (55%), and stimulus trains evoked responses from more muscles per site than from StimulusTA. Facilitation (72%) was more common from stimulus trains than StimulusTA (39%). In the overall results, a bilateral reciprocal activation pattern of ipsilateral flexor and contralateral extensor facilitation was evident for StimulusTA and stimulus trains. When the comparison was restricted to cases where both methods produced a response in a given muscle from the same site, agreement was very high, at 80%. For the remaining 20%, discrepancies were accounted for mainly by facilitation from stimulus trains when StimulusTA produced suppression, which was in agreement with the under-representation of suppression in the stimulus train data as a whole. To the extent that the stimulus train method may favor transmission through polysynaptic pathways, these results suggest that polysynaptic pathways from the PMRF more often produce facilitation in muscles that would typically demonstrate suppression with StimulusTA.
doi:10.1007/s00221-010-2231-5
PMCID: PMC2923487  PMID: 20379705
Reticulospinal; Electromyography; Electrical stimulation; Reaching; Macaque
6.  Reticulospinal Neurons in the Pontomedullary Reticular Formation of the Monkey (Macaca fascicularis) 
Neuroscience  2009;163(4):1158-1170.
Recent neurophysiological studies indicate a role for reticulospinal neurons of the pontomedullary reticular formation (PMRF) in motor preparation and goal directed reaching in the monkey. Although the macaque monkey is an important model for such investigations, little is known regarding the organization of the PMRF in the monkey. In the present study, we investigated the distribution of reticulospinal neurons in the macaque. Bilateral injections of wheat germ agglutinin conjugated to horseradish peroxidase (WGA-HRP) were made into the cervical spinal cord. A wide band of retrogradely labeled cells was found in the gigantocellular reticular nucleus (Gi) and labeled cells continued rostrally into the caudal pontine reticular nucleus (PnC) and into the oral pontine reticular nucleus (PnO). Additional retrograde tracing studies following unilateral cervical spinal cord injections of cholera toxin subunit B revealed that there were more ipsilateral (60%) than contralateral (40%) projecting cells in Gi, while an approximate 50:50 contralateral to ipsilateral split was found in PnC and PnO. Reticulospinal neurons in PMRF ranged widely in size from over 50 μm to under 25 μm across the major somatic axis. Labeled giant cells (soma diameters greater than 50 μm) comprised a small percentage of the neurons and were found in Gi, PnC and PnO. The present results define the origins of the reticulospinal system in the monkey and provide an important foundation for future investigations of the anatomy and physiology of this system in primates.
doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.07.036
PMCID: PMC2760615  PMID: 19631726
cholera toxin; WGA-HRP; immunocytochemistry; substance P; cervical spinal cord
7.  Motor Outputs From the Primate Reticular Formation to Shoulder Muscles as Revealed by Stimulus-Triggered Averaging 
Journal of neurophysiology  2004;92(1):83-95.
The motor output of the medial pontomedullary reticular formation (mPMRF) was investigated using stimulus-triggered averaging (StimulusTA) of EMG responses from proximal arm and shoulder muscles in awake, behaving monkeys (M. fascicularis). Muscles studied on the side ipsilateral (i) to stimulation were biceps (iBic), triceps (iTri), anterior deltoid (iADlt), posterior deltoid (iPDlt), and latissimus dorsi (iLat). The upper and middle trapezius were studied on the ipsilateral and con-tralateral (c) side (iUTr, cUTr, iMTr, cMTr). Of 133 sites tested, 97 (73%) produced a poststimulus effect (PStE) in one or more muscles; on average, 38% of the sampled muscles responded per effective site. For responses that were observed in the arm and shoulder, poststimulus facilitation (PStF) was prevalent for the flexors, iBic (8 responses, 100% PStF) and iADlt (13 responses, 77% PStF), and poststimulus suppression (PStS) was prevalent for the extensors, iTri (22 responses, 96% PStS) and iLat (16 responses, 81% PStS). For trapezius muscles, PStS of upper trapezius (iUTr, 49 responses, 73% PStS) and PStF of middle trapezius (iMTr, 22 responses, 64% PStF) were prevalent ipsilaterally, and PStS of middle trapezius (cMTr, 6 responses, 67% PStS) and PStF of upper trapezius (cUTr, 46 responses, 83% PStS) were prevalent contralaterally. Onset latencies were significantly earlier for PStF (7.0 ± 2.2 ms) than for PStS (8.6 ± 2.0 ms). At several sites, extremely strong PStF was evoked in iUTr, even though PStS was most common for this muscle. The anatomical antagonists iBic/iTri were affected reciprocally when both responded. The bilateral muscle pair iUTr/cUTr demonstrated various combinations of effects, but cUTr PStF with iUTr PStS was prevalent. Overall, the results are consistent with data from the cat and show that outputs from the mPMRF can facilitate or suppress activity in muscles involved in reaching; responses that would contribute to flexion of the ipsilateral arm were prevalent.
doi:10.1152/jn.00083.2003
PMCID: PMC2740726  PMID: 15014106
8.  A Laboratory Exercise Demonstrating the Limited Circumstances in which the Cerebral Cortex is Engaged in Over Ground Locomotion 
For neuroscience, memorable demonstrations of principles in action are crucial. Neural control of walking is particularly difficult to understand because the interaction of the cerebral cortex with a central pattern generator (CPG) makes the mode of control context-dependent. Beginning students tend to consider corticospinal control the basis of all movement, so they may not distinguish the limited circumstances in which the cerebral cortex bypasses the CPG to control leg movements directly for walking. The demonstration described here is designed to show that cortical involvement in normal walking is minimal unless visual control of foot placement is required. Cortical involvement in motor control is assessed by probing for spare attention while a student volunteer performs three different tasks: sitting, walking down a hallway, and walking through an obstacle course. Simple math quizzes with 20 oral questions are the probes. The class observes the demonstration and discusses the results. To evaluate learning, a multiple-choice question was administered two months after the demonstration, as well as 14 months later to cohorts from the previous year’s class. The demonstration succeeded: quiz scores were similar for sitting and level walking, but lower for the obstacle course. Two months later, 86% of students correctly answered the multiple choice question; 42% of the previous year’s cohorts answered correctly after 14 months. The demonstration shows that the cortex is engaged by walking through an obstacle course, not walking on a flat indoor surface. Initially, most students learned this distinction well, but after a year, many reverted to the idea that the corticospinal tract controls details of leg movements during walking. Thus this result emphasizes the need for review of advanced concepts. Overall, the experience was fun and could easily fit into basic or clinical neuroscience courses.
PMCID: PMC3592609  PMID: 23494163
cerebral cortex; corticospinal tract; voluntary movement; motor control; central pattern generation; locomotion; dual task

Results 1-8 (8)