The response characteristics of dorsal spinocerebellar tract (DSCT) neurons and ventral spinocerebellar tract (VSCT) neurons to the cutaneous inputs applied to footpads were studied in the cat. Three different wave forms were used: (1) step displacement of varying amplitudes (0.01-3.5 mm); (2) constant amplitude ramps with different slopes (5-120 mm/s); and (3) constant amplitude sinusoidal displacements of varying frequencies (1-20 Hz). Both DSCT and VSCT neurons responded phasically to cutaneous stimuli of different wave forms. The phasic responses were related to both the amplitude and velocity of the peripheral stimulus. However, the responses of DSCT neurons were graded over only a very narrow, low range of stimulus intensities, whereas the responses of VSCT neurons were graded over a larger range of skin indentation up to 3 mm. Only the DSCT neurons exhibited some length sensitivity to ramp stimuli, and only DSCT neurons were activated repetitively by periodic stimuli. These results suggest both DSCT and VSCT can transmit exteroceptive information but respond selectively to different features of these stimuli.
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- cutaneous input
- dorsal spinocerebellar tract
- spinal cord
- ventral spinocerebellar tract