November 28, 2020

Functional Suppression of Premotor Activity in a Transient Model of Motor Cortex Injury

Cortical injuries (e.g. strokes or traumatic brain injuries) can create a host of secondary events that further impair the brain’s sensory, motor, or cognitive capabilities. Here, we attempted to isolate the acute effects of the primary injury, i.e., the loss of cortical activity, on rodent motor cortex (caudal forelimb area, CFA) without the secondary effects that arise from damage to cortical tissue.

We then observed the effects of this loss of activity on the rodent premotor cortex (rostral forelimb area, RFA). In anesthetized rats, CFA was temporarily inactivated with the GABA-A agonist muscimol, disrupting motor network function while leaving neural connectivity intact. Using intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) techniques, we found that CFA inactivation completely abolished ICMS-evoked forelimb movement from RFA yet spared some CFA evoked-movement. Neural recordings confirmed that neural suppression by muscimol was isolated to CFA and did not spread into RFA. We next observed how CFA inactivation suppressed RFA influence on forelimb muscles by obtaining intramuscular electromyographical (EMG) recordings from forelimb muscles during ICMS.

EMG recordings showed that despite the presence of evoked movement in CFA, but not RFA, muscle activation in both areas were similarly reduced. These results suggest that the primary reason for the loss of ICMS-evoked movement in RFA is not reduced forelimb muscle activity, but rather a loss of the specific activity between RFA and CFA. Therefore, within the intact motor network of the rat, RFA’s influence on forelimb movement is mediated by CFA, similar to the premotor and motor organization observed in non-human primates.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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