Descending pathways mediating disynaptic excitation of dorsal neck motoneurones in the cat: brain stem relay

Neurosci Res. 1992 Oct;15(1-2):42-57. doi: 10.1016/0168-0102(92)90016-6.


The location of intercalated neurones mediating disynaptic excitation from tectum, tegmentum and pyramids to dorsal neck motoneurones has been investigated by: (a) recording field potentials in the lower brain stem evoked from the above systems, (b) systematic stimulation in the brain stem during intracellular recording from motoneurones innervating the splenius, biventer cervicis and complexus muscles, and (c) comparing the effects of lesions of the brain stem with kainic acid on the disynaptic EPSPs elicited from the above three systems. Electrical stimulation of the contralateral superior colliculus evoked monosynaptic field potentials which were largest in the caudal pontine reticular formation rostral to the abducens nucleus and in the rostral part of the medullary reticular formation caudal to the abducens nucleus. Likewise, stimulation of the ipsilateral tegmentum (the cuneiform and subcuneiform nucleus) evoked field potentials which were large in the caudal medulla and small in the pons. In contrast, stimulation of the contralateral tegmentum was ineffective in evoking field potentials. Stimulation of the pyramid 2-3 mm rostral to the obex elicited monosynaptic field potentials in the reticular formation of the lower brain stem that were only about 25% of those from the superior colliculus. In contrast to the field potentials from the superior colliculus, the pyramidal ones were large in the medulla and small in the pons. Lesions of the reticular formation in the lower brain stem by unilateral kainic acid injection caused disappearance of disynaptic EPSPs in motoneurones from the above three systems. These results strongly suggest that the intercalated neurones mediating pyramidal, tectal and tegmental EPSPs are reticulospinal neurones in the lower brain stem. Systematic stimulation in various locations of the lower brain stem showed that monosynaptic EPSPs were evoked from the regions of the reticular formation which received projection from the above three descending systems. The effective regions for evoking the EPSPs in splenius (SPL) were located somewhat more dorsally than for biventer cervicis and complexus (BCC) motoneurones. The descending axons of presumed reticulospinal neurones were stimulated with electrodes placed in medial, middle and lateral positions at the spinomedullary junction. Monosynaptic EPSPs in SPL and BCC motoneurones were evoked from the medial and middle electrodes but not from the lateral electrode.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Brain Stem / physiology*
  • Cats
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Kainic Acid / pharmacology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Neck Muscles / innervation*
  • Neck Muscles / physiology
  • Reticular Formation / cytology
  • Reticular Formation / physiology
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / physiology


  • Kainic Acid