On the relation of PAG neurons to laryngeal and respiratory muscles during vocalization in the monkey

Chuck Larson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Despite evidence from previous unit recording, microstimulation, lesioning and anatomical studies, the functions of the midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAG) remain unclear. We attempted to clarify the function of the PAG by recording activity of PAG units along with laryngeal and respiratory electromyograms (EMG) during vocalization in awake monkeys. PAG units were classified with respect to vocalization on the basis of their discharge patterns as 'early burst', 'late burst', 'tonic-increase' and 'tonic-off', with the vast majority being of the early- and late-burst type. Early-burst cells were correlated most frequently with inspiratory muscles of the respiratory system and laryngeal abductor muscles. Late-burst cells were most clearly correlated with laryngeal adductor and expiratory respiratory muscles. Data from spike-triggered averaging and parametric correlations indicate that most cells are related to single muscles, but a significant number were related to functionally related groups of two or more muscles. The results suggest that the PAG determines qualitative aspects of vocalization by the multisynaptic action its cells have on laryngeal and respiratory motoneurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 21 1991


  • Electromyographic
  • Laryngeal
  • Macaca nemestrina
  • Periaqueductal gray
  • Respiratory
  • Vocalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Clinical Neurology


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