Response patterns and postspike effects of peripheral afferents in dorsal root ganglia of behaving monkeys

J Neurophysiol. 1992 Apr;67(4):875-89. doi: 10.1152/jn.1992.67.4.875.


1. The activity of single afferent units was recorded in cervical dorsal root ganglia (DRG) in two macaque monkeys as they generated alternating flexion and extension torques about the wrist during a step-tracking task. During these isometric and auxotonic muscle contractions, electromyographic (EMG) activity was recorded with electrode pairs in up to 12 independent forearm muscles. Spike-triggered averages (STAs) of rectified EMG activity were used to identify afferents that were associated with correlated facilitation of active muscles. 2. Our aim was to find peripheral afferents producing postspike effects in muscles and to compare their properties with those of corticomotoneuronal (CM) and rubromotoneuronal (RM) cells previously obtained under identical behavioral conditions. We documented the timing, magnitude and distribution of their postspike facilitation (PSF) of forearm muscles and investigated the response properties of task-related units. 3. Of 125 afferent units tested with STAs, 68 showed PSF of EMG activity in at least one muscle. Fifty-nine DRG units provided sufficiently long recordings to generate averages with greater than or equal to 2,000 triggers, the minimum number considered to demonstrate reliable effects. Of these 59 units, 29 (49%) were associated with facilitation of forearm muscle activity. 4. Many STAs showed a gradual increase in EMG activity starting before or near the afferent trigger spike; often superimposed on this broad facilitation was a sharply rising PSF starting at a longer latency. The earliest poststimulus facilitation evoked by single microstimuli delivered in DRG occurred in stimulus-triggered averages at a latency of 3.5 ms. In STAs the broad facilitation beginning at latencies shorter than the responses to electrical stimulation was attributed to synchronous discharges in other afferent units. The sharper postspike EMG increases occurring with latencies of greater than or equal to 3.5 ms were identified as PSF produced by the afferent. The PSF parameters documented in this study were measured after subtracting the effects of synchrony facilitation. 5. PSF of EMG activity began at a mean latency of 5.8 +/- 0.3 (SE) ms and peaked at a mean latency of 7.5 +/- 0.3 (SE) ms. In previous studies, the PSFs from CM and RM cells had mean onset latencies of 6.3 and 5.6 ms, respectively, and mean peak latencies of 10.2 and 9.1 ms. 6. A measure of the PSF amplitude is the mean percent increase (MPI), defined as the increase of the PSF above its base measured as a percentage of the prespike baseline mean.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electromyography / instrumentation
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiology*
  • Isometric Contraction*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Muscles / innervation*
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Wrist Joint