Direct excitation of neck motoneurons by interstitiospinal fibers

K. Fukushima, N. G. Pitts, B. W. Peterson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


1. Responses of neck motoneurons to stimulation of the interstitial nucleus of Cajal (INC) were recorded intracellularly in cats under chloralose anesthesia. When stimuli were applied within or close to the INC, short latency, monosynaptic excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) were evoked in many neck motoneurons. Such EPSPs were not evoked by stimulating mesencephalic regions outside the INC. 2. Stimulation of the ipsilateral INC produced monosynaptic EPSPs consistently in biventer cervicis-complexus (BCC) motoneurons, while such EPSPs were observed in about two thirds of the splenius (SP) motoneurons and half of the trapezius (TR) motoneurons tested. Stimulation of the contralateral INC produced weak monosynaptic EPSPs in about half the BCC motoneurons and in a few SP and TR motoneurons. All types of motoneurons also received longer latency, apparently polysynaptic, PSPs from both INCs. In BCC and TR motoneurons these were mainly EPSPs, in SP, mixed excitatory and inhibitory PSPs. 3. Monosynaptic EPSPs evoked by INC stimulation were not eliminated by acute and chronic parasagittal and transverse lesions placed to interrupt the bifurcating axons of all vestibulospinal and many reticulospinal neurons. No significant collision was observed between EPSPs evoked by INC and vestibular or reticular stimulation. The EPSPs evoked by stimulation of the INC therefore appear to have been produced by activation of interstitiospinal neurons rather than by an axon reflex mechanism. 4. The properties of a number of interstitiospinal neurons were observed while recording extracellularly from the mesencephalon to map the location of the INC. One third of the interstitiospinal neurons activated antidromically from the C4 segment could also be activated antidromically from L1. These lumbar-projecting neurons had conduction velocities ranging from 15-123 m/s. Several interstitiospinal neurons sending axons to the ventral horn of the neck segments were identified and two of these were found to be branching neurons that projected both to the neck and to lower levels of the spinal cord.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-581
Number of pages17
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Sep 1978


  • Interstitial nucleus of Cajal
  • Monosynaptic excitation
  • Neck motoneurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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