Initiation of Locomotor Activity in Spinal Cats by Epidural Stimulation of the Spinal Cord

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Acute and chronic experiments on lower spinal (T10–T12) cats were performed to investigate the effects of epidural stimulation of the dorsal surface of the spinal cord on the initiation of locomotor activity. A zone located at the border between segments L4 and L5 was identified, stimulation of which induces locomotor activity. The parameters of epidural stimulation of the spinal cord effective in activating the stepping movement generator were identified. Epidural stimulation leading to the initiation of movement activity was shown to depend on intracentral and peripheral mechanisms activating the segmental, intersegmental and propriospinal reflex systems of the spinal cord. A leading role was demonstrated for the propriospinal system of the dorsolateral funiculi in activating the generators of stepping movements in epidural stimulation of the spinal cord.

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