Five spino-olivocerebellar paths ascending through the ventral funiculus (VF-SOCPs) with different projection zones in the cerebellar cortex have been distinguished (Oscarsson and Sjölund, 1977). These paths are denoted the a-, b1-, b2-, c1- and c3-VF-SOCPs according to the labelling of the projection zones. The functional organization of these paths has now been investigated.
All five paths are activated by the flexor reflex afferents from wide receptive fields (one or more limbs). Distal nerves are more effective in evoking responses than proximal nerves.
The a-, c1- and c3-paths are activated from the ipsilateral hindlimb only. The b1- and b2-paths are activated bilaterally from the forelimbs and hindlimbs, respectively.
The a-, b1- and b2-paths have long segmental delays indicating a polysynaptic linkage between the primary afferents and the tract neurones, whereas the c1- and c3-paths have short delays demonstrating a monosynaptic linkage.
The neurones giving origin to the paths are situated within a few segments of the dorsal root entrance. The axons cross the midline, ascend through the contralateral ventral funiculus, and activate the olivary neurones monosynaptically.
The spino-olivary tract of the c3-path has an upper conduction velocity of 30 m/s, whereas the other paths have upper conduction velocities of 40–45 m/s.
The segmental delay of the b1-VF-SOCP is much longer (mean 8.7 ms) than that of the b2-VF-SOCP (mean 3.9 ms). As a result simultaneous stimuli to the hindlimbs and forelimbs are signalled to reach the cerebellar cortex at the same time.
It is suggested that the information carried by the different paths is concerned with the segmental motor control.
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Oscarsson, O., Sjölund, B. The ventral spino-olivocerebellar system in the cat III. Functional characteristics of the five paths. Exp Brain Res 28, 505–520 (1977). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00236473
- Ventral spino-olivocerebellar paths
- Climbing fibres
- Inferior olive