Proper movement execution relies on precise input processing by spinal motoneurons (MNs). Spinal MNs are activated by limb joint rotations. Typically, their movement-related receptive fields (MRRFs) are sharply focused and joint-specific. After acute spinal transection MRRFs become wide, but their manifestation is not apparent, as intrinsic excitability, primarily resulting from the loss of persistent inward currents (PICs), dramatically decreases. PICs undergo a remarkable recovery with time after injury. Here we investigate whether MRRFsundergo a recovery that parallels that of the PIC. Using the chronic spinal cat in acute terminal decerebrate preparations,wefound that MRRFs remain expanded 1 month after spinal transaction, whereas PICs recovered to > 80% of their preinjury amplitudes. These recovered PICs substantially amplified the expanded inputs underlying the MRRFs. As a result, we show that single joint rotations lead to the activation of muscles across the entire limb. These results provide a potential mechanism for the propagation of spasms throughout the limb.
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