Absence of impulse activity in cortical neurons with transient projections to the cerebellum

Tolbert, D.L.

Brain Research. Developmental Brain Research 50(2): 241-249


ISSN/ISBN: 0165-3806
PMID: 2611987
DOI: 10.1016/0165-3806(89)90200-9
Accession: 006976453

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During the second postnatal week of development in cats, neurons in layer V of the primary sensorimotor cortex project transiently, by way of collaterals of pyramidal tract axons, to the cerebellum. All cerebrocerebellar collaterals are subsequently eliminated, while the collaterals in the pyramidal tract persist into the adult. To determine if the transience of the projection to the cerebellum could be due to the lack of functional activity in cerebrocerebellar projection neurons, single-unit extracellular recordings were made from neurons in the primary somatosensory cortex (S-I) in 8-14-day-old kittens. Projection neurons were identified by their antidromic activation from pyramidal tract or cerebellum. Collision experiments confirmed that some neurons had collateral projections to both structures. Recordings from both generally anesthetized as well as locally anesthetized, but awake preparations, indicated that pyramidal tract and cerebrocerebellar projection neurons never fired action potentials spontaneously or were orthodromically activated following stimulation of the medial lemniscus. Stimulation of the medial lemniscus did synaptically activate neurons in the cortex, but these were always located superficial to the antidromically activated projection neurons. These findings indicate that pyramidal tract and/or cerebrocerebellar S-I projection neurons are physiologically silent during the period of development that cortical axons are transiently present in the cerebellum, suggesting that cerebrocerebellar projections may be eliminated because of the lack of impulse activity.