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J Neurosci December 15, 2002; 22 (24): 10924-34.

Spinal inhibitory neurons that modulate cutaneous sensory pathways during locomotion in a simple vertebrate.

During locomotion, reflex responses to sensory stimulation are usually modulated and may even be reversed. This is thought to be the result of phased inhibition, but the neurons responsible are usually not known. When the hatchling Xenopus tadpole swims, responses to cutaneous stimulation are modulated. This occurs because sensory pathway interneurons receive rhythmic glycinergic inhibition broadly in phase with the motor discharge on the same side of the trunk. We now describe a new whole-cell recording preparation of the Xenopus tadpole CNS. This has been used with neurobiotin injection to define the passive and firing properties of spinal ascending interneurons and their detailed anatomy. Paired recordings show that they make direct, glycinergic synapses onto spinal sensory pathway interneurons, and the site of contact can be seen anatomically. During swimming, ascending interneurons fire rhythmically. Analysis shows that their firing is more variable and not as reliable as other interneurons, but the temporal pattern of their impulse activity is suitable to produce the main peak of gating inhibition in sensory pathway interneurons. Ascending interneurons are not excited at short latency after skin stimulation but are strongly active after repetitive skin stimulation, which evokes vigorous and slower struggling movements. We conclude that ascending interneurons are a major class of modulatory neurons producing inhibitory gating of cutaneous sensory pathways during swimming and struggling.

PubMed ID: 12486187
PMC ID: PMC6758443
Article link: J Neurosci
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