RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
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Synaptic organization of sensory and motor neurones innervating triceps brachii muscles in the bullfrog.

1. The anatomy and physiology of sensory-motor pathways were studied in the brachial spinal cord of adult bullfrogs to characterize the properties and specificity of these connexions.2. Motoneurones innervating a given forelimb muscle are located in discrete and reproducible regions of the lateral motor column. Yet only a fraction of the motoneurones in a particular region innervates any one muscle.3. The central projections of sensory afferent axons from the triceps muscles extend throughout the rostro-caudal length of the brachial spinal cord. Within this region these projections terminate in an area containing many motoneuronal dendrites.4. Within the triceps motor pool sensory neurones from the triceps muscles produce monosynaptic potentials only in triceps motoneurones even though these motoneurones are mingled with motoneurones innervating other muscles.5. Motoneurones innervating each of the three heads of the triceps muscles, medial, internal and external, receive monosynaptic input from their own, homonymous muscle head. Sensory fibres from the medial head also innervate 98% of the heteronymous motoneurones projecting to the internal or external heads, and nearly 90% of the medial triceps motoneurones are innervated by sensory axons from the other two heads.6. Similarly, other brachial motoneurones receive monosynaptic input from sensory axons in their own muscle nerves. However, most of the synaptic potentials evoked in triceps motoneurones by stimulation of muscle nerves other than triceps are of longer latency and probably involve polysynaptic pathways.7. Thus, the pattern of synaptic connexions between muscle sensory afferents and motoneurones in the frog's spinal cord is specific. Furthermore, comparison with homologous pathways in the cat's spinal cord suggests that the strength and pattern of these connexions are similar.

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