Neurons of the dorsal spinocerebellar tracts (DSCT) have been described to be rhythmically active during walking on a treadmill in decerebrate cats, but this activity ceased following deafferentation of the hindlimb. This observation supported the hypothesis that DSCT neurons primarily relay the activity of hindlimb afferents during locomotion, but lack input from the spinal central pattern generator. The ventral spinocerebellar tract (VSCT) neurons, on the other hand, were found to be active during actual locomotion (on a treadmill) even after deafferentation, as well as during fictive locomotion (without phasic afferent feedback). In this study, we compared the activity of DSCT and VSCT neurons during fictive rhythmic motor behaviors. We used decerebrate cat preparations in which fictive motor tasks can be evoked while the animal is paralyzed and there is no rhythmic sensory input from hindlimb nerves. Spinocerebellar tract cells with cell bodies located in the lumbar segments were identified by electrophysiological techniques and examined by extra- and intracellular microelectrode recordings. During fictive locomotion, 57/81 DSCT and 30/30 VSCT neurons showed phasic, cycle-related activity. During fictive scratch, 19/29 DSCT neurons showed activity related to the scratch cycle. We provide evidence for the first time that locomotor and scratch drive potentials are present not only in VSCT, but also in the majority of DSCT neurons. These results demonstrate that both spinocerebellar tracts receive input from the central pattern generator circuitry, often sufficient to elicit firing in the absence of sensory input.
Journal of Neurophysiology, 2013, Vol 109, Issue 2, p. 375-88
Action Potentials; Animals; Cats; Decerebrate State; Hindlimb; Locomotion; Neurons, Afferent; Spinocerebellar Tracts; The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences; Cerebellum; Clarke's column; Scratch; Sensorimotor integration