Conditioned H-reflex increase persists after transection of the main corticospinal tract in rats.

TitleConditioned H-reflex increase persists after transection of the main corticospinal tract in rats.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsChen, XY, Chen, L, Wolpaw, J
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Date Published11/2003
KeywordsSpinal Cord Injuries

The brain shapes spinal cord function throughout life. Operant conditioning of the H-reflex, the electrical analog of the spinal stretch reflex (SSR), is a relatively simple model for exploring the spinal cord plasticity underlying this functional change and may provide a new method for modifying spinal cord reflexes after spinal cord injury. In response to an operant conditioning protocol, rats can gradually increase (i.e., up-training mode) or decrease (i.e., down-training mode) the soleus H-reflex. This study explored the effects of midthoracic transection of the ipsilateral lateral column (LC) (rubrospinal, vestibulospinal, and reticulospinal tracts), the dorsal column corticospinal tract (CST), or the dorsal column ascending tract (DA) on maintenance of an H-reflex increase that has already occurred. Rats were implanted with EMG electrodes in the right soleus muscle and a nerve-stimulating cuff on the right posterior tibial nerve. After initial (i.e., control) H-reflex size was determined, the rats were exposed for 50 days to the up-training mode, in which reward was given when the H-reflex was above a criterion value. H-reflex size gradually rose to 168 +/- 12% (mean +/- SE) of its initial value. Each rat then received an LC, CST, or DA transection and continued under the up-training mode for 50 more days. None of the transections abolished the H-reflex increase. H-reflex size increased further to 197 +/- 19% of its initial value and did not differ significantly among LC, CST, and DA rats (P > 0.78 by ANOVA). Although earlier studies show that the main CST is needed for acquisition of H-reflex up-training and down-training and for maintenance of down-training, this study shows that it is not needed for maintenance of up-training. It adds to the evidence that H-reflex conditioning changes the spinal cord and that the spinal cord plasticity associated with up-training is different from that associated with down-training.


You are here