Uncrossed actions of feline corticospinal tract neurones on hindlimb motoneurones evoked via ipsilaterally descending pathways


Corresponding author E. Jankowska: Department of Physiology, Medicinaregatan 11, Box 432, 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden. Email: elzbieta.jankowska@physiol.gu.se


Despite numerous investigations on the corticospinal system there is only scant information on neuronal networks mediating actions of corticospinal neurones on ipsilateral motoneurones. We have previously demonstrated double crossed pathways through which pyramidal tract neurones can influence ipsilateral motoneurones, via contralaterally descending reticulospinal neurones and spinal commissural interneurones. The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of stimulation of pyramidal tract (PT) fibres mediated via ipsilaterally descending pathways and to find out which neurones relay these effects. This was done by using intracellular recordings from 96 lumbar motoneurones in deeply anaesthetized cats. To eliminate actions of fibres descending on the side contralateral to the location of the motoneurones, the spinal cords were hemisected on this side at a low-thoracic level. Stimuli that selectively activated ipsilateral PT fibres evoked EPSPs and/or IPSPs in 34/47 motoneurones tested. These PSPs were evoked at latencies indicating that the most direct coupling between PT neurones and motoneurones in uncrossed pathways is disynaptic. Occlusion and spatial facilitation between actions evoked by stimulation of ipsilateral PT and of reticulospinal tract fibres in the ipsilateral medial longitudinal fascicle (MLF) indicated that PT actions are mediated by reticulospinal neurones with axons in the MLF. However, after transection of the MLF in the caudal medulla, stimulation of the ipsilateral PT continued to evoke EPSPs and IPSPs with characteristics similar to when the MLF was intact (in 15/49 motoneurones) suggesting the existence of parallel disynaptic pathways via other relay neurones.