Descending signals from the pontomedullary reticular formation are bilateral, asymmetric, and gated during reaching movements in the cat

J Neurophysiol. 2006 Nov;96(5):2229-52. doi: 10.1152/jn.00342.2006. Epub 2006 Jul 12.


We examined the contribution of neurons within the pontomedullary reticular formation (PMRF) to the control of reaching movements in the cat. We recorded the activity of 127 reticular neurons, including 56 reticulospinal neurons, during movements of each forelimb; 67/127 of these neurons discharged prior to the onset of activity in the prime flexor muscles during the reach of the ipsilateral limb and form the focus of this report. Most neurons (63/67) showed similar patterns and levels of discharge activity during reaches of either limb, although activity was slightly greater during reach of the ipsilateral limb. In 26/67 cells, the initial change in discharge activity was time-locked to the go signal during reaches of either limb; we have argued that this early discharge contributes to the anticipatory postural adjustments that precede movement. In 11/26 cells, the initial change in activity was reciprocal for reaches with the left and right limbs, although activity during the movement was nonreciprocal. Spike-triggered averaging produced postspike facilitation or depression (PSD) in 12/50 cells during reaches of the limb ipsilateral to the recording site and in 17/49 cells during reach of the contralateral limb. Some cells produced PSD in ipsilateral extensor muscles before the start of the reach and during reaches made with the contralateral, but not the ipsilateral limb; this suggests the signal must be differentially gated. Overall, the results suggest a strong bilateral, albeit asymmetric, contribution from the PMRF to the control of posture and movement during voluntary movement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Cues
  • Databases, Factual
  • Efferent Pathways / cytology
  • Efferent Pathways / physiology*
  • Electromyography
  • Forelimb / physiology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Hindlimb / physiology
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Medulla Oblongata / cytology
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Pons / cytology
  • Pons / physiology*
  • Reticular Formation / cytology
  • Reticular Formation / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology