The optimal neural strategy for a stable motor task requires a compromise between level of muscle cocontraction and synaptic gain of afferent feedback.
1. The reversal potentials of several types of inhibitory post-synaptic potentials (IPSPs) have been studied in cat spinal motoneurones with and without modification of intracellular chloride ion (Cl(-)) concentration. Single barrel intracellular micropipette electrodes have been used.2. When studied with potassium citrate filled micropipettes, the reversal potential for IPSPs evoked by stimulation of antagonist group Ia afferents is the same as that for recurrent IPSPs evoked by antidromic stimulation of motoneurone axon collaterals, confirming earlier observations (Araki, Ito & Oscarsson, 1961; Coombs, Eccles & Fatt, 1955).3. Studied with potassium chloride filled micropipettes. the reversal potential for the group Ia IPSP was found to be different from that for the recurrent IPSP when the amount of Cl(-) diffusing or iontophoretically injected into the motoneurone was small. The amount of difference in reversal potential varied from cell to cell but when present the group Ia IPSP reversed to a depolarizing potential more readily than the recurrent IPSP in all cases.4. Interaction between recurrent IPSPs and monosynaptic excitatory post-synaptic potentials (EPSPs) was also studied and the amount of non-linearity of potential summation was measured.5. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that the terminations of Renshaw cells responsible for the recurrent IPSP are located largely on the proximal dendrites of motoneurones, while the terminations of the interneurones generating the group Ia IPSP appear to be closer to or on the cell somata.