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Central projection of proprioceptive information from the wrist joint via a forearm 'muscle' nerve in the cat.

  • Mackie, P D
  • Rowe, M J
Published Article
The Journal of physiology
Publication Date
Jul 01, 1998
510 ( Pt 1)
PMID: 9625882


1. Peripheral nerves arising in joint capsules are known to contain a 'contaminating' contribution from muscle afferent fibres. In the present report we provide the first electrophysiological evidence that some joint afferent fibres may take an 'ectopic' path to the central nervous system via a nearby muscle nerve. 2. Experiments were conducted in anaesthetized cats in which a distal extension of the indicis proprius nerve was observed to project beyond its own muscle to the dorsal surface of the wrist joint capsule which is also supplied by the 'classic' wrist joint nerve, a branch of the dorsal interosseous nerve. Both the proximal and distal segments of the indicis proprius nerve were exposed for recording, by means of silver hook electrodes, while each segment remained in continuity. 3. Individual wrist joint afferent fibres with receptive fields on the dorsal surface of the joint capsule could be identified electrophysiologically within the distal segment of the indicis proprius nerve. In each of these cases the same fibre could also be identified at the proximal recording site. The identity of each of these simultaneously recorded units was established (1) by the short fixed interval between their times of spike occurrence, (2) from the exact correspondence of the capsular receptive field for the simultaneously recorded spikes, and (3) by the unfailing correlation in the presence, or absence, of the distally and proximally recorded spikes in association with either manual or controlled stimulation of the wrist joint capsule. Most joint afferent fibres identified with this projection path were in the group II range of conduction velocities and had conventional properties but group III fibres also appeared to be represented. 4. The present demonstration that some joint afferent fibres may be located within 'muscle' nerves emphasizes the importance of activating deep inputs, of joint or muscle origin, by adequate stimulation of the peripheral receptors in order to examine selectively the central actions of either source of input. Electrical stimulation of the peripheral nerves may lead to interpretative ambiguities.

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