Becciu Mameli, Chiara Ombretta and Stanzani, Stefania and Russo, Antonella and Pellitteri, Rosaria and Manca, Paolo and De Riu, Pier Luigi and Caria, Marcello Alessandro (2014) Involvement of trigeminal mesencephalic nucleus in kinetic encoding of whisker movements. Brain Research Bulletin, Vol. 102 , p. 37-45. ISSN 0361-9230. eISSN 1873-2747. Article.
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In previous experiments performed on anaesthetised rats, we demonstrated that whisking neurons responsive to spontaneous movement of the macrovibrissae are located within the trigeminal mesencephalic nucleus (Me5) and that retrograde tracers injected into the mystacial pad of the rat muzzle extensively labelled a number of Me5 neurons. In order to evaluate the electrophysiological characteristics of the Me5–whisker pad neural connection, the present study analysed the Me5 neurons responses to artificial whisking induced by electrical stimulation of the peripheral stump of the facial nerve. Furthermore, an anterograde tracer was injected into the Me5 to identify and localise the peripheral terminals of these neurons in the mystacial structures. The electrophysiological data demonstrated that artificial whisking induced Me5 evoked potentials as well as single and multiunit Me5 neurons responses consistent with a direct connection. Furthermore, the neuroanatomical findings showed that the peripheral terminals of the Me5 stained neurons established direct connections with the upper part of the macrovibrissae, at the conical body level, with fibres spiralling around the circumference of the vibrissae shaft. As for the functional role of this sensory innervation, we speculated that the Me5 neurons are possibly involved in encoding and relaying proprioceptive information related to vibrissae movements to other CNS structures.
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