3 years ago

Phrenic motoneurons: output elements of a highly organized intraspinal network.

The pontomedullary respiratory network generates the respiratory pattern and relays it to bulbar and spinal respiratory motor outputs. The phrenic motor system controlling diaphragm contraction receives and processes descending commands to produce orderly, synchronous, and cycle-to-cycle-reproducible spatiotemporal firing. Multiple investigators have studied PhMNs in an attempt to shed light on local mechanisms underlying phrenic pattern formation. We recorded PhMNs in unanesthetized, decerebrate rats and related their activity to simultaneous phrenic nerve (PhN) activity by creating a time-frequency representation of PhMN-PhN power and coherence. Based on their temporal firing patterns and relationship to PhN activity, we categorized PhMNs into three classes, each of which emerges as a result of intrinsic biophysical and network properties and organizes the orderly contraction of diaphragm motor fibers. For example, early inspiratory diaphragmatic activation by the early coherent burst generated by high-frequency PhMNs may be necessary in order to prime it to overcome its initial inertia. We have also demonstrated the existence of a prominent role for local intraspinal inhibitory mechanisms in shaping phrenic pattern formation. The objective of this review is to relate and synthesize recent findings with those of previous studies with the aim of demonstrating that the phrenic nucleus is a region of active local processing, rather than a passive relay of descending inputs.

Publisher URL: http://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00705.2015

DOI: 10.1152/jn.00705.2015

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