Mechanical changes in the amphibian spinal cord produced by afferent volleys of nerve impulses

Brain Res. 1984 Jun 3;301(2):265-72. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(84)91095-3.


A volley of impulses entering the toad spinal cord via large myelinated fibers in the lumbar dorsal roots was shown to evoke a contraction of the cord, which lasted for about 100 ms or more. A volley entering the cord antidromically via the ventral roots produced only a small, brief contraction. When two electric shocks were delivered to the same dorsal roots at a short interval, the contraction associated with the second shock was small; a period of about 1 s was required for a full recovery. When two shocks were applied separately to two neighboring dorsal roots, the contraction associated with the second shock was partially or totally occluded. Electric polarization of the dorsal root fibers produced mechanical changes in the cord. The effects of magnesium salt, GABA, glutamate and several other neuropharmacological agents on the contractile process were investigated. The experimental findings suggest that the contractile process is related to the phenomenon of primary afferent depolarization.

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bufo marinus
  • Calcium / pharmacology
  • Evoked Potentials / drug effects
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiology
  • Magnesium / pharmacology
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Rana catesbeiana
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission* / drug effects


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium