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Membrane Potential Oscillations of Neonatal Rat Spinal Motoneurons Evoked by Electrical Stimulation of Dorsal Root Fibres


Correspondence to: G. Baranauskas, as above


Intracellular recording from lumbar motoneurons of the neonatal rat isolated spinal cord bathed in standard saline solution was used to study membrane potential oscillations which accompanied the decay phase of excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSP) induced by single electrical pulses to an adjacent dorsal root. About 60% of motoneurons displayed rhythmic oscillations of 10 ± 2 mV maximal amplitude and 7 ± 0.5 Hz frequency. Ability to generate oscillations could not be correlated to the cell membrane properties or to the age of the preparation (5–13 days). The oscillation frequency was independent of membrane potential (-100 to -45 mV) or of the intensity of dorsal root stimuli. The oscillation amplitude was linearly related to the cell potential within the same voltage level. Fast Fourier transform analysis showed that the power spectrum of oscillations peaked at ˜8 Hz. Electrically evoked activities and spontaneous events displayed similar cut-off frequencies. When the cell membrane potential was steadily depolarized, a hyperpolarizing pulse applied during the decay phase of the EPSP promptly revealed the presence of oscillatory behaviour. Pharmacological block of neurokinin-1 or N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors depressed the decay phase of the EPSP and the associated oscillatory responses. It is suggested that rhythmic oscillations were probably due to summated synaptic potentials generated at the premotoneuron level and are perhaps of functional relevance to motoneuron behaviour.