Corticospinal tract transection prevents operantly conditioned H-reflex increase in rats.

TitleCorticospinal tract transection prevents operantly conditioned H-reflex increase in rats.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsChen, XY, Carp, JS, Chen, L, Wolpaw, J
JournalExperimental brain research. Experimentelle Hirnforschung. Expérimentation cérébrale
Date Published05/2002
Keywordsdorsal column, lateral column, Learning, plasticity, spinal cord injury

Operant conditioning of the H-reflex, the electrical analog of the spinal stretch reflex, in freely moving rats is a relatively simple model for studying long-term supraspinal control over spinal cord function. Motivated by food reward, rats can gradually increase (i.e., up-condition) or decrease (i.e., down-condition) the soleus H-reflex. Earlier work showed that corticospinal tract transection prevents acquisition and maintenance of H-reflex down-conditioning while transection of other major spinal cord tracts does not. This study explores the effects on acquisition of up-conditioning of the right soleus H-reflex of mid-thoracic transection of: the right lateral column (LC, five rats) (containing the rubrospinal, vestibulospinal, and reticulospinal tracts); the entire dorsal column (DC, six rats) [containing the main corticospinal tract (CST) and the dorsal ascending tract (DA)]; the CST alone (five rats); or the DA alone (seven rats). After initial (i.e., control) H-reflex amplitude was determined, the rat was exposed for 50 days to the up-conditioning mode in which reward was given when the H-reflex was above a criterion value. H-reflex amplitude at the end of up-conditioning was compared to initial H-reflex amplitude. An increase > or =20% was defined as successful up-conditioning. In intact rats, H-reflex amplitude at the end of up-conditioning averaged 164% (+/-10%, SE), and 81% were successful. In the present study, LC and DA rats were similar to intact rats in final H-reflex amplitude and percent successful. In contrast, results for DC and CST rats were significantly different from those of intact rats. In the six DC rats, final H-reflex amplitude averaged 105% (+/-3)% of control and none was successful; and in the five CST rats, final H-reflex amplitude averaged 94% (+/-3)% and none was successful. The results indicate that the main CST, located in the dorsal column, is essential for H-reflex up-conditioning as it is for down-conditioning, while the dorsal column ascending tract and the ipsilateral lateral column (containing the main rubrospinal, vestibulospinal, and reticulospinal tracts) do not appear to be essential.


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