The purpose of these experiments was to define the topography of cuneate and spinal projections to the forelimb representation in the rostral dorsal accessory olive (rDAO). We were interested in determining whether the spinal and cuneate inputs constitute a homogeneous afferent source, and whether there is evidence that they serve different functional roles. We were also interested in determining whether the somatotopy of rDAO is the result of a point-to-point projection from its afferent sources, or whether the projection suggests a reorganization of afferents at the olive. Single unit recording was used to identify specific regions of rDAO, and the topography of inputs to the identified regions was determined by using wheat germ agglutinin-horseradish peroxidase (WGA-HRP) as a tracer. The results from retrograde tracing were confirmed by using WGA-HRP as an anterograde tracer from input sources. The cuneate and spinal neurons providing input to rDAO constitute two distinct neural populations. One consists of cells in the caudal cuneate nucleus and lamina VI of the rostral two cervical segments, the other consists of cells in the rostral cuneate nucleus. The cells in the caudal cuneate nucleus and the rostral cervical segments are large, multipolar neurons that form a single column of rDAO input cells. The column of cells projects to the contralateral rDAO in a topographic fashion with rostral regions of the column projecting to rostral rDAO, which contains cells that respond to somatosensory stimulation of the contralateral shoulder, trunk, and proximal forelimb. Caudal regions of the column project to caudal rDAO, which contains cells that respond to stimulation of the distal forelimb. Despite this topography, there is a large degree of overlap in the terminations from neighboring regions of the input column, indicating that a major reorganization occurs at the rDAO. The projection from the rostral cuneate nucleus arises from small neurons that project bilaterally to rDAO, and the input from the rostral cuneate nucleus lacks a clear topography. We propose that input from the cell column is responsible for the somatosensory sensitivity of rDAO neurons, whereas input from rostral cuneate is most likely modulatory, probably inhibitory, in nature.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||19|
|Journal||Journal of Comparative Neurology|
|State||Published - Mar 2 1998|
- Inferior olive
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