Branching patterns of single corticospinal (CS) neurons were studied in the cat by activating these neurons antidromically from various regions of the spinal cord.
One hundred and ninety-three neurons were activated antidromically by microstimulation in the gray substance of the cervical cord and the majority of them were found in the forelimb area of the pericruciate cortex.
Branches to the lower levels of the spinal cord were found for 30% of the neurons projecting to the cervical gray matter.
The remaining 70% sent axons only to the cervical gray matter and some of them sent multiple branches to several segments in the cervical cord.
Only a few CS neurons located outside of the forelimb area could be activated from the cervical cord, but all of them also sent branches to the lower levels of the spinal cord. Neurons projecting to both the cervical cord and the lower levels were intermingled in the cortex with those projecting only to the cervical cord.
CS neurons activated from a given area of the cervical cord were often clustered together in a small area of the cortex, although some of these CS neurons sent their other branches to other parts of the spinal cord and neurons projecting to other parts were also intermingled among them.
The functional significance of multiple axonal branching of CS neurons is discussed in relation to cortical motor functions.
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Shinoda, Y., Arnold, A.P. & Asanuma, H. Spinal branching of corticospinal axons in the cat. Exp Brain Res 26, 215–234 (1976). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00234928
- Corticospinal neuron
- Spinal axon branching