Output from the primary motor cortex contains oscillations that can have frequency-specific effects on the firing of motoneurons (MNs). Whereas much is known about the effects of oscillatory cortical drive on the output of spinal MN pools, considerably less is known about the effects on cranial motor nuclei, which govern speech/oromotor control. Here, we investigated cortical input to one such motor pool, the hypoglossal motor nucleus (HMN), which controls muscles of the tongue. We recorded intramuscular genioglossus electromyogram (EMG) and scalp EEG from healthy adult subjects performing a tongue protrusion task. Cortical entrainment of HMN population activity was assessed by measuring coherence between EEG and multiunit EMG activity. In addition, cortical entrainment of individual MN firing activity was assessed by measuring phase locking between single motor unit (SMU) action potentials and EEG oscillations. We found that cortical entrainment of multiunit activity was detectable within the 15- to 40-Hz frequency range but was inconsistent across recordings. By comparison, cortical entrainment of SMU spike timing was reliable within the same frequency range. Furthermore, this effect was found to be intermittent over time. Our study represents an important step in understanding corticomuscular synchronization in the context of human oromotor control and is the first study to document SMU entrainment by cortical oscillations in vivo.
The neonatal rodent serves as useful and appropriate model within which to study respiratory system development. Despite an extensive literature that documents respiratory control in vitro, in vivo studies have relied upon whole body plethysmography to determine measures of respiratory frequency and tidal volume. However, plethysmography restricts access to the animal and thus, respiratory muscle electromyographic (EMG) activities have not been recorded in these studies previously. Electromyography yields accurate information about neural respiratory center output to the musculature and therefore, about the control of breathing in the intact animal. In this case, we documented neural drive to respiratory pump and upper airway muscles, electrocardiogram (ECG) and chest wall motions in rat pups up to 10 days of age noting sighs, spontaneous central apneas and hypopneas in room air and with successive increments in fractional inspired CO2 (F1CO2). Our findings underscore the advantages of EMG recordings for purposes of determining the magnitude and distribution of neural drive to respiratory muscles and for characterizing the full range of breathing behaviors exhibited by rats in the early postnatal period. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
We recently showed respiratory-related coactivation of both extrinsic and intrinsic tongue muscles in the rat. Here, we test the hypothesis that intrinsic tongue muscles contribute importantly to changes in velopharyngeal airway volume. Spontaneously breathing anesthetized rats were placed in a MRI scanner. A catheter was placed in the hypopharynx and connected to a pressure source. Axial and sagittal images of the velopharyngeal airway were obtained, and the volume of each image was computed at airway pressures ranging from +5.0 to -5.0 cm H2O. We obtained images in the hypoglossal intact animal (i.e., coactivation of intrinsic and extrinsic tongue muscles) and after selective denervation of the intrinsic tongue muscles, with and without electrical stimulation. Denervation of the intrinsic tongue muscles reduced velopharyngeal airway volume at atmospheric and positive airway pressures. Electrical stimulation of the intact hypoglossal nerve increased velopharyngeal airway volume; however, when stimulation was repeated after selective denervation of the intrinsic tongue muscles, the increase in velopharyngeal airway volume was significantly attenuated. These findings support our working hypothesis that intrinsic tongue muscles play a critical role in modulating upper airway patency.