Independent and convergent signals from the pontomedullary reticular formation contribute to the control of posture and movement during reaching in the cat

J Neurophysiol. 2004 Oct;92(4):2217-38. doi: 10.1152/jn.01189.2003. Epub 2004 Jun 2.


We have addressed the nature of the postural control signals contained within the discharge activity of neurons in the pontomedullary reticular formation, including reticulospinal neurons, during a reaching task in the cat. We recorded the activity of 142 neurons during ipsilateral reaching movements that required anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs) in the supporting limbs to maintain equilibrium. Discharge activity in 82/142 (58%) neurons was significantly increased before the onset of the reach. Most of these neurons discharged either in a phasic (22/82), tonic (10/82), or phasic/tonic (41/82) pattern. In each of these 3 groups, the onset of the discharge activity in some neurons was temporally related either to the go signal or to the onset of the movement. In many neurons, one component of the discharge sequence was better related to the go signal and another to the onset of the movement. Based on our previous behavioral study during the same task, we suggest that reticular neurons in which the discharge activity is better related to the go signal contribute to the initiation of the APAs that precede the movement. Neurons in which the discharge activity is better related to the movement signal might contribute to the initiation of the movement and to the production of the postural responses that accompany that movement. Together our results suggest the existence of neurons that signal posture and movement independently and others that encode a convergent signal that contributes to the control of both posture and movement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Cues
  • Efferent Pathways / physiology
  • Electromyography
  • Electrophysiology
  • Forelimb / physiology*
  • Medulla Oblongata / cytology
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Neural Conduction / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Pons / cytology
  • Pons / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Reticular Formation / cytology
  • Reticular Formation / physiology*