Cerebellar Purkinje cell simple spike discharge encodes movement velocity in primates during visuomotor arm tracking. (1/3335)

Pathophysiological, lesion, and electrophysiological studies suggest that the cerebellar cortex is important for controlling the direction and speed of movement. The relationship of cerebellar Purkinje cell discharge to the control of arm movement parameters, however, remains unclear. The goal of this study was to examine how movement direction and speed and their interaction-velocity-modulate Purkinje cell simple spike discharge in an arm movement task in which direction and speed were independently controlled. The simple spike discharge of 154 Purkinje cells was recorded in two monkeys during the performance of two visuomotor tasks that required the animals to track targets that moved in one of eight directions and at one of four speeds. Single-parameter regression analyses revealed that a large proportion of cells had discharge modulation related to movement direction and speed. Most cells with significant directional tuning, however, were modulated at one speed, and most cells with speed-related discharge were modulated along one direction; this suggested that the patterns of simple spike discharge were not adequately described by single-parameter models. Therefore, a regression surface was fitted to the data, which showed that the discharge could be tuned to specific direction-speed combinations (preferred velocities). The overall variability in simple spike discharge was well described by the surface model, and the velocities corresponding to maximal and minimal discharge rates were distributed uniformly throughout the workspace. Simple spike discharge therefore appears to integrate information about both the direction and speed of arm movements, thereby encoding movement velocity.  (+info)

Wasting of the small hand muscles in upper and mid-cervical cord lesions. (2/3335)

Four patients are described with destructive rheumatoid arthritis of the cervical spine and neurogenic wasting of forearm and hand muscles. The pathological connection is not immediately obvious, but a relationship between these two observations is described here with clinical, radiological, electrophysiological and necropsy findings. Compression of the anterior spinal artery at upper and mid-cervical levels is demonstrated to be the likely cause of changes lower in the spinal cord. These are shown to be due to the resulting ischaemia of the anterior part of the lower cervical spinal cord, with degeneration of the neurones innervating the forearm and hand muscles. These findings favour external compression of the anterior spinal artery leading to ischaemia in a watershed area as the likeliest explanation for this otherwise inappropriate and bizarre phenomenon.  (+info)

Endothelial function in Marfan syndrome: selective impairment of flow-mediated vasodilation. (3/3335)

BACKGROUND: The cardiovascular complications of Marfan syndrome arise due to alterations in the structural and functional properties of fibrillin, a constituent of vascular connective tissues. Fibrillin-containing microfibrils are closely associated with arterial endothelial cells, indicating a possible functional role for fibrillin in the endothelium. Plasma concentrations of endothelial cell products are elevated in Marfan subjects, which indirectly indicates endothelial dysfunction. This study directly assessed flow- and agonist-mediated endothelium-dependent brachial artery reactivity in Marfan subjects. METHODS AND RESULTS: In 20 Marfan and 20 control subjects, brachial artery diameter, blood flow, and blood pressure were measured by ultrasonic wall tracking, Doppler ultrasound, and photoplethysmography, respectively. Measurements were taken during hand hyperemia (a stimulus for endothelium-derived nitric oxide [NO] release in the upstream brachial artery) and after sublingual administration of the endothelium-independent vasodilator nitroglycerin. In 9 Marfan and 6 control subjects, the above parameters were also assessed during intra-arterial infusions of acetylcholine and bradykinin (agonists that stimulate NO production) and NG-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA, an inhibitor of NO production). Flow-mediated responses differed markedly between Marfan and control subjects (-1.6+/-3.5% versus 6. 50+/-4.1%, respectively; P<0.0001), whereas nitroglycerin produced similar vasodilation (14.2+/-5.7% versus 15.2+/-7.8%; P=NS). Agonist-induced vasodilation to incremental intra-arterial infusions of acetylcholine and bradykinin were not significantly different between Marfan and control subjects, and intra-arterial L-NMMA produced similar reductions in brachial artery diameter in both groups. CONCLUSIONS: These data demonstrate impaired flow-mediated but preserved agonist-mediated endothelium-dependent vasodilation in Marfan subjects and suggest preservation of basal NO release. Selective loss of flow-mediated dilation suggests a role for fibrillin in endothelial cell mechanotransduction.  (+info)

Neuronal activity in somatosensory cortex of monkeys using a precision grip. I. Receptive fields and discharge patterns. (4/3335)

Three adolescent Macaca fascicularis monkeys weighing between 3.5 and 4 kg were trained to use a precision grip to grasp a metal tab mounted on a low friction vertical track and to lift and hold it in a 12- to 25-mm position window for 1 s. The surface texture of the metal tab in contact with the fingers and the weight of the object could be varied. The activity of 386 single cells with cutaneous receptive fields contacting the metal tab were recorded in Brodmann's areas 3b, 1, 2, 5, and 7 of the somatosensory cortex. In this first of a series of papers, we describe three types of discharge pattern, the receptive-field properties, and the anatomic distribution of the neurons. The majority of the receptive fields were cutaneous and covered less than one digit, and a chi2 test did not reveal any significant differences in the Brodmann's areas representing the thumb and index finger. Two broad categories of discharge pattern cells were identified. The first category, dynamic cells, showed a brief increase in activity beginning near grip onset, which quickly subsided despite continued pressure applied to the receptive field. Some of the dynamic neurons responded to both skin indentation and release. The second category, static cells, had higher activity during the stationary holding phase of the task. These static neurons demonstrated varying degrees of sensitivity to rates of pressure change on the skin. The percentage of dynamic versus static cells was about equal for areas 3b, 2, 5, and 7. Only area 1 had a higher proportion of dynamic cells (76%). A third category was identified that contained cells with significant pregrip activity and included cortical cells with both dynamic or static discharge patterns. Cells in this category showed activity increases before movement in the absence of receptive-field stimulation, suggesting that, in addition to peripheral cutaneous input, these cells also receive strong excitation from movement-related regions of the brain.  (+info)

Neuronal activity in somatosensory cortex of monkeys using a precision grip. II. Responses To object texture and weights. (5/3335)

Three monkeys were trained to lift and hold a test object within a 12- to 25-mm position window for 1 s. The activity of single neurons was recorded during performance of the task in which both the weight and surface texture of the object were systematically varied. Whenever possible, each cell was tested with three weights (15, 65, and 115 g) and three textures (smooth metal, fine 200 grit sandpaper, and rough 60 grit sandpaper). Of 386 cells recorded in 3 monkeys, 45 cells had cutaneous receptive fields on the index or thumb or part of the thenar eminence and were held long enough to be tested in all 9 combinations of texture and weight. Recordings were made for the entire anterior-posterior extent of the thumb and index finger areas in somatosensory cortex including area 7b. However, the statistical analysis required a selection of only those cells for which nine complete recording conditions were available limiting the sample to cells in areas 2, 5, and 7b. Significant differences in the grip force accompanied 98% of the changes in texture and 78% of the changes in weight. Increasing the object weight also increased the force tangential to the skin surface as measured by the load or lifting force. The peak discharge during lifting was judged to be the most sensitive index of cell activity and was analyzed with a two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). In addition, peak cell discharge was normalized to allow comparisons among different combinations of texture and weight as well as comparisons among different neurons. Overall, the peak firing frequency of 87% of the cells was significantly modulated by changes in object texture, but changes in object weight affected the peak activity of only 58% of the cells. Almost all (17/18, 94%) of the static cells were influenced by the object texture, and 81% of the dynamic cells that were active only briefly at grip and lift onset were modulated by texture. For some cells, surface texture had a significant effect on neuronal discharge that was independent of the object weight. In contrast, weight-related responses were never simple main effects of the weight alone and appeared instead as significant interactions between texture and weight. Four neurons either increased or decreased activity in a graded fashion with surface structure (roughness) regardless of the object weight (P < 0.05). Ten other neurons showed increases or decreases in response to one or two textures, which might represent either a graded response or a tuning preference for a specific texture. The firing frequency of the majority (31/45) of neurons reflected an interaction of both texture and weight. The cells with texture-related but weight-independent activities were thought to encode surface characteristics that are largely independent of the grip and lifting forces used to manipulate the object. Such constancies could be used to construct internal representations or mental models for planning and controlling object manipulation.  (+info)

Modulation of the thermoregulatory sweating response to mild hyperthermia during activation of the muscle metaboreflex in humans. (6/3335)

1. To investigate the effect of the muscle metaboreflex on the thermoregulatory sweating response in humans, eight healthy male subjects performed sustained isometric handgrip exercise in an environmental chamber (35 C and 50 % relative humidity) at 30 or 45 % maximal voluntary contraction (MVC), at the end of which the blood circulation to the forearm was occluded for 120 s. The environmental conditions were such as to produce sweating by increase in skin temperature without a marked change in oesophageal temperature. 2. During circulatory occlusion after handgrip exercise at 30 % MVC for 120 s or at 45 % MVC for 60 s, the sweating rate (SR) on the chest and forearm (hairy regions), and the mean arterial blood pressure were significantly above baseline values (P < 0.05). There were no changes from baseline values in the oesophageal temperature, mean skin temperature, or SR on the palm (hairless regions). 3. During the occlusion after handgrip exercise at 30 % MVC for 60 s and during the occlusion alone, none of the measured parameters differed from baseline values. 4. It is concluded that, under mildly hyperthermic conditions, the thermoregulatory sweating response on the hairy regions is modulated by afferent signals from muscle metaboreceptors.  (+info)

Effects of muscle perfusion pressure on fatigue and systemic arterial pressure in human subjects. (7/3335)

The effects of changes in arterial perfusion across the physiological range on the fatigue of a working human hand muscle were studied in seven normal subjects. With the hand above heart level, subjects made repeated isometric contractions of the adductor pollicis muscle at 50% of maximal voluntary contraction in a 6-s on, 4-s off cycle. To assess fatigue, a maximal isometric twitch was elicited in each "off" period by electrical stimulation of the ulnar nerve. The experiment was repeated at least 2 days later with the hand at heart level. Five subjects showed faster fatigue with the arm elevated, and two subjects showed little difference in fatigue for the two conditions. Central blood pressure rose in proportion to fatigue for the subjects overall and returned quickly to its initial level afterwards. We conclude that human muscle fatigue can be increased by physiological reductions in perfusion pressure. Central blood pressure increases as the muscle fatigues, a response that may partially offset declining muscle performance.  (+info)

Endothelial function is impaired in fit young adults of low birth weight. (8/3335)

OBJECTIVE: Non-insulin-dependent diabetes, hypertension and ischaemic heart disease, with insulin resistance, are associated with low birth weight (the 'Small Baby Syndrome'). Common to these adult clinical conditions is endothelial dysfunction. We tested the hypothesis that endothelial dysfunction could precede their development in those of low birth weight. METHODS: Endothelial function was measured by ultrasonic 'wall-tracking' of flow-related brachial artery dilatation in fit 19-20 year old subjects randomly selected (blind to the investigators throughout the study) from low (< 2.5 kg) and normal (3.0-3.8 kg) birth weight subjects in the 1975-7 cohort of the Cardiff Births Survey and with no known cause for endothelial dysfunction. RESULTS: Flow-related dilatation was impaired in low birth weight relative to normal birth weight subjects (median 0.04 mm [1.5%] [n = 22] cf. 0.11 mm [4.1%] [n = 17], p < 0.05; 0.04 mm [1.5%] [n = 15] cf. 0.12 mm [4.4%] [n = 12], p < 0.05 after exclusion of inadvertently included ever-smokers). CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that endothelial dysfunction is a consequence of foetal malnutrition, consistent with contributing to the clinical features of the 'Small Baby Syndrome' in later adult life.  (+info)