Influences of sensory input from the limbs on feline corticospinal neurons during postural responses


Corresponding author T. G. Deliagina: Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, SE-171 77, Stockholm, Sweden. Email:


The dorsal-side-up body posture of standing quadrupeds is maintained by coordinated activity of all limbs. Somatosensory input from the limbs evokes postural responses when the supporting surface is perturbed. The aim of this study was to reveal the contribution of sensory inputs from individual limbs to the posture-related modulation of pyramidal tract neurons (PTNs) arising in the primary motor cortex. We recorded the activity of PTNs from the limb representation of motor cortex in the cat maintaining balance on a platform periodically tilted in the frontal plane. Each PTN was recorded during standing on four limbs, and when two or three limbs were lifted from the platform and thus did not signal its displacement to motor cortex. By comparing PTN responses to tilts in different tests we found that the amplitude and the phase of the response in the majority of them were determined primarily by the sensory input from the corresponding contralateral limb. In a portion of PTNs, this input originated from afferents of the peripheral receptive field. Sensory input from the ipsilateral limb, as well as input from limbs of the other girdle made a much smaller contribution to the PTN modulation. These results show that, during postural activity, a key role of PTNs is the feedback control of the corresponding contralateral limb and, to a lesser extent, the coordination of posture within a girdle and between the two girdles.