1. In normal and thalamic walking cats electrical stimulation of muscle nerves via chronically implanted electrodes produced electromyographic (EMG) and neurographic responses that were modulated in amplitude depending on the phase of the step cycle. These responses were examined for possible indications of effects of primary afferent depolarization (PAD) during stepping. 2. Monosynaptic reflexes (MSRs) produced by stimulating the lateral gastrocnemius (LG) and medial gastrocnemius (MG) nerves were recorded as EMGs in MG or LG muscles during treadmill locomotion in normal cats. These heteronymous MSR responses were greatest during the stance (extensor) phase. 3. In the same animals, after decerebration, similar modulation of the heteronymous ankle extensor MSRs occurred during spontaneous locomotion with the use of the same stimulus and recording sites. 4. In both normal and thalamic cats the amplitude of neurogram responses recorded from LG or MG nerve after stimulation of the other muscle nerve varied with phase of stepping but did not parallel the variations of the MSR measured as EMG amplitude in the same muscle. The nerve responses were largest during the flexion phase of the step cycle and had a calculated central latency of 0.6-1.0 ms. These are interpreted as arising from antidromic activity in large-caliber afferent nerve fibers (i.e., dorsal root reflexes). 5. Spontaneous antidromic activity in severed L7 dorsal rootlet fibers to triceps surae was observed in the thalamic cats during episodes of locomotion and was closely correlated with flexion phase EMG activity in semitendinosus, a bifunctional muscle. 6. In decerebrate cats, dorsal root reflexes (DRRs) in severed filaments of L4-L7 dorsal roots were produced by stimulation of saphenous and posterior tibial nerves. These DRRs were always smaller during locomotion than during rest and were smallest during the flexion phase. 7. The short-latency antidromic activity produced in muscle nerves by stimulating heteronymous muscle nerves thus appears to be a DRR produced in Group I terminal arborizations that are depolarized close to threshold during the flexion phase. Such PAD could account for changes in the MSR that do not always parallel the levels of recruitment of the motor pools as manifest by background EMG amplitude.
- Copyright © 1990 the American Physiological Society