H-reflex operant conditioning in mice.

TitleH-reflex operant conditioning in mice.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsCarp, JS, Tennissen, AM, Chen, XY, Wolpaw, J
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Date Published10/2006
KeywordsSpinal Cord

Rats, monkeys, and humans can alter the size of their spinal stretch reflex and its electrically induced analog, the H-reflex (HR), when exposed to an operant conditioning paradigm. Because this conditioning induces plasticity in the spinal cord, it offers a unique opportunity to identify the neuronal sites and mechanisms that underlie a well-defined change in a simple behavior. To facilitate these studies, we developed an HR operant conditioning protocol in mice, which are better suited to genetic manipulation and electrophysiological spinal cord study in vitro than rats or primates. Eleven mice under deep surgical anesthesia were implanted with tibial nerve stimulating electrodes and soleus and gastrocnemius intramuscular electrodes for recording ongoing and stimulus-evoked EMG activity. During the 24-h/day computer-controlled experiment, mice received a liquid reward for either increasing (up-conditioning) or decreasing (down-conditioning) HR amplitude while maintaining target levels of ongoing EMG and directly evoked EMG (M-responses). After 3-7 wk of conditioning, the HR amplitude was 133 +/- 7% (SE) of control for up-conditioning and 71 +/- 8% of control for down-conditioning. HR conditioning was successful (i.e., > or =20% change in HR amplitude in the appropriate direction) in five of six up-conditioned animals (mean final HR amplitude = 139 +/- 5% of control HR for successful mice) and in four of five down-conditioned animals (mean final HR amplitude = 63 +/- 8% of control HR for successful mice). These effects were not attributable to differences in the net level of motoneuron pool excitation, stimulation strength, or distribution of HR trials throughout the day. Thus mice exhibit HR operant conditioning comparable with that observed in rats and monkeys.


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