Response of caudate neurons to stimulation of intrinsic and peripheral afferents in normal, symptomatic, and recovered MPTP-treated cats.
This study investigated the role of the ventral lateral (VL) nucleus of the thalamus as a lemniscal relay to motor cortex. Intracellular recordings were obtained from thalamic VL relay neurons in cats anesthetized with chloralose, following stimulation of the dorsal column nuclei. VL neurons were identified by their short-latency input from the cerebellar nuclei, their antidromic activation from motor cortex and their anatomical location. A total of 105 neurons was studied. The occurence of temporal facilitation to double volleys was also examined. It was found that 80/105 (75%) neurons responded with excitation and/or inhibition to stimulation of the dorsal column nuclei. The latencies of the postsynaptic responses ranged from 2.0 to 20 ms (median 10.0 ms). The latencies of nearly all responses (79/80) were > 3 ms and nearly all responses (45/47) which were tested for it, displayed temporal facilitation to double shock stimulation, consistent with polysynaptic transmission. Effective stimulation sites were found in the gracile and cuneate nuclei. Recording sites were located throughout VL, including the “border region” with the ventral posterior lateral nucleus (VPL). There was no obvious topographic relationship between location of recording site and latency or polarity (excitation versus inhibition) of the synaptic responses. This is consistent with dorsal column input diffusely distributed over VL. When the recording electrodes penetrated VPL, characteristics of the EPSPs were indicative of monosynaptic transmission (short latency, no temporal facilitation). This clear transition from VL to VPL suggests that it is not necessary to define, on physiological grounds, a separate “border region” between these two nuclei. The data provide evidence that dorsal column information reaches VL neurons polysynaptically, not monosynaptically. This indicates that VL is part of a long-latency, not short-latency path through the dorsal column nuclei to motor cortex.