Electrophysiological and morphological measurements in cat gastrocnemius and soleus alpha-motoneurones

Brain Res. 1984 Jul 30;307(1-2):167-79. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(84)90471-2.


Intracellular recording and staining with HRP was used to study the electrical properties and anatomical size of medial gastrocnemius (MG) and soleus (SOL) alpha-motoneurones in curarized cats. The MG motoneurones were divided into two groups on the basis of their input resistance (RN), namely low-resistance MG-LR cells (RN less than 1.0 M omega) and high-resistance MG-HR cells (RN greater than 1.0 M omega). Analysis of the voltage transients following applied current pulses indicated that the SOL neurones had longer membrane time constants (tau o) than the MG-LR cells, while the MG-HR group exhibited intermediate values. Using Rall's equivalent cylinder model, a difference in specific membrane resistivity (Rm) between the MG-LR (low Rm) and SOL (high Rm) cells was obtained. This difference was observed also in neurones of similar anatomical size, and was consistent with the observed difference in tau o. In two neurones Rm was in addition calculated directly from anatomy and input resistance according to the general solution for a continuous neurone model with arbitrary geometry given by Rall. The latter method was found to yield significantly lower values for Rm, although the observed difference between the neurone types remained similar. Also the values for electrotonic length (L) were found to differ considerably between the calculations based on voltage transient analysis and those obtained from combined physiological and anatomical measurements. The observed variations in results are discussed in relation to possible sources of error in the experimental techniques and/or in the theoretical assumptions, particularly that of Rm being uniform over the entire soma-dendritic membrane. It is suggested that Rm might be larger in the dendritic regions than in the soma. A crude approximation of the dendrite to soma conductance ratio (Q) indicated that most cells (80%) had Q greater than 5.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrophysiology
  • Motor Neurons / cytology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Neural Conduction
  • Recruitment, Neurophysiological