Activity of medullary serotonergic neurons in freely moving animals

Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 2002 Oct;40(1-3):45-52. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0173(02)00187-x.


In the mammalian brain, serotonergic neurons in the medulla (n. raphe magnus, obscurus, and pallidus) send dense projections into the spinal cord, especially to the dorsal horn, intermediolateral column, and ventral horn. We have conducted a series of studies examining the single unit activity of these neurons in behaving cats. The experiments were directed at determining whether changes in unit activity were related to pain (n. raphe magnus), autonomic activity (n. raphe obscurus and pallidus), or motor activity (n. raphe obscurus and pallidus). The strongest relationship was between neuronal activity and motor output, especially tonic and repetitive motor activity. We hypothesize that the primary functions of this motor-related activity are to facilitate motor output, suppress processing of some forms of afferent activity, and to coordinate autonomic functioning with the current motor demand.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiology
  • Medulla Oblongata / anatomy & histology
  • Medulla Oblongata / cytology
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology*
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Serotonin / physiology*
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Wakefulness / physiology


  • Serotonin