The nucleus retroambigualis controls laryngeal muscle activity during vocalization in the cat

Exp Brain Res. 1997 Jul;115(3):513-9. doi: 10.1007/pl00005721.


The purpose of this study was to determine (1) whether the nucleus retroambigualis (NRA) plays an essential role in periaqueductal gray (PAG)-induced vocalization and (2) which NRA neurons are involved in the projection from the PAG to laryngeal motoneurons. Bilateral injections of the neurotoxin kainic acid into the NRA in decerebrate cats abolished PAG-induced vocalization; PAG stimulation after the injections no longer modulated vocal fold adductor or tensor activity, and only tonically, but no longer phasically, activated the abdominal muscles. In contrast, PAG-induced inspiratory excitation remained even after the injections. These results suggest that the NRA is essential for the vocal activation of the laryngeal adductor and abdominal muscles, and that an additional pathway from the PAG to respiratory motoneurons other than through the NRA is important for mediating PAG-induced inspiratory activation. Secondly, axonal projections of NRA neurons to the contralateral nucleus ambiguus (NA) were studied electrophysiologically. Five expiratory neurons, which had decrementing (n=4) or constant (n=1) firing patterns, were identified as both having axonal projections to the NA and receiving inputs from the PAG. Furthermore, following NA stimulation many constant-latency action potentials of silent cells were recorded in the vicinity of the NRA, where many silent cells were also orthodromically activated by PAG stimulation. No NRA augmenting expiratory neurons could be antidromically activated from the NA. It is suggested that the NRA and adjacent reticular formation integrate inputs from the PAG and send outputs to laryngeal motoneurons for vocalization.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Brain Stem / physiology*
  • Cats
  • Female
  • Kainic Acid
  • Laryngeal Muscles / innervation*
  • Male
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Movement / drug effects
  • Periaqueductal Gray / physiology*
  • Respiratory Center / physiology*
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology*


  • Kainic Acid