Projection of individual pyramidal tract neurons to lumbar motor nuclei of the monkey

Exp Brain Res. 1979 Jan 2;34(1):73-89. doi: 10.1007/BF00238342.


The projection of individual pyramidal tract (PT) neurons from the hindlimb area in the precentral gyrus of the cerebral cortex to the lumbar spinal cord was studied in the monkey by systematically searching for sites within identified regions of the spinal gray from which the PT neurons could be antidromically activated by local stimulation. All investigated neurons belonged to the fast conducting fraction of PT neurons. The following results were obtained. 1. Each PT neuron could be activated from more than one region of the spinal gray matter, including identified spinal motor nuclei and areas dorsomedial to these nuclei, but do not the intermediate nucleus or regions dorsal to it. "Passage areas" and "termination areas" were defined. 2. Half of the PT neurons with termination areas within motor nuclei had these areas in more than one nucleus. There were thus strong suggestions for synaptic contacts of some PT neurons with motoneurons of more than one muscle. 3. Four groups of three or four neurons were recorded simultaneously by the same cortical electrode. Comparisons of passage and termination areas within groups revealed both similarities and differences in projections of neighboring neurons. Every neuron was activated from some region(s) where others of the group were not. Common passage areas, or passage and termination areas, for two or three neurons of a group within at least one motor nucleus were found for all groups. Termination areas in the same motor nucleus have been found for the majority of the neurons of only one group. These common projection areas are compatible with, but not prove, that group of adjacent PT neurons has common target cells in the spinal cord.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Haplorhini
  • Hindlimb / innervation
  • Motor Cortex / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Muscles / innervation
  • Pyramidal Tracts / anatomy & histology*
  • Pyramidal Tracts / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Refractory Period, Electrophysiological
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology