Organization of neck muscle motoneurons in the cervical spinal cord of the pigeon

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Abstract

As a first step towards the analysis of the neural control of pecking behaviour in the pigeon, the cell bodies of neck muscle motoneurons were localized and their som-atotopic organization in the cervical spinal cord examined. Fluorescent tracers were injected into single neck muscles and labelled motoneuron cell bodies identified. Labelled perikarya were arranged in longitudinal columns within layers VIII and IX of the ventral horn ipsilateral to the injection site. Cell bodies of neurons innervating different muscles formed distinct columns that extended mainly rostrally from the injection level. Labelling of adjoining portions of one muscle revealed one continuous column of cell bodies. Relative to the neck muscles, the motoneuron perikarya were arranged in a mediolaterally inversed pattern.

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