Spinal cord pathways involved in initiation of swimming in the stingray, Dasyatis sabina: spinal cord stimulation and lesions

Williams, B.J.; Livingston, C.A.; Leonard, R.B.

Journal of Neurophysiology 51(3): 578-591


ISSN/ISBN: 0022-3077
PMID: 6699678
DOI: 10.1152/jn.1984.51.3.578
Accession: 044378764

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In spinally transected stingrays, electrical stimulation of a site just ventral to the dorsal root entry zone or a site in the intermediate portions of the lateral funiculus produced rhythmic swimming like movements of the contralateral pectoral fin. Electromyographic (EMG) records collected during cord-stimulated rhythms had the same pattern of activity and sometimes the same intersegmental coordination as those collected during spontaneous swimming of the same animal. In paralyzed, high-spinal stingrays, the only stimulation sites that produced rhythmic activity (fictive swimming) in the pectoral fin motor nerves were in the intermediate portion of the lateral funiculus. The evoked rhythm occurred in the motor nerves that were contralateral to the stimulated side of the spinal cord. The effects of subtotal lesions of the rostral spinal cord on spontaneous swimming behavior were assessed by analysis of EMG records taken before and after the lesions were made. Severe deficits in swimming occurred after bilateral ablation of intermediate portions of the lateral funiculi. In agreement with previous results, the stimulation experiments indicate that the stingray spinal cord contains an inherent capacity to generate properly coordinated rhythmic swimming. The current experiments also suggest that the descending pathways(s) that normally functions to initiate swimming projects through the intermediate aspects of the lateral funiculi.