ADAPTIVE PLASTICITY IN THE SPINAL STRETCH REFLEX

Summary

Principal Investigator: JONATHAN RICKEL WOLPAW
Affiliation: Wadsworth Center
Country: USA
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Throughout life, the nervous system acquires and maintains many different motor skills. How this is accomplished is one of the central problems of neuroscience research. In the past, the challenge was to discover examples of CNS plasticity accompanying skill acquisition. Now, many kinds of plasticity are known to occur continually throughout the CNS, and the challenge is to understand how this complex plasticity accounts for motor skills and how this plasticity may be guided so as to restore useful function after injury or disease. This requires models based on simple skills produced by defined and accessible neural circuitry. The spinal stretch reflex (SSR or tendon jerk) satisfies this requirement. Its spinal pathway is influenced by the brain. By changing this influence in response to an operant conditioning protocol, monkeys, humans, rats, and mice can gradually increase or decrease the SSR or its electrical analog, the H-reflex. According to the standard definition of "skill" as "an adaptive behavior acquired through practice," this reflex change is a simple motor skill. This laboratory is defining the plasticity that underlies this skill and is learning how the plasticity can be guided to help restore motor function after spinal cord injury and in other disorders. The work of the past grant period showed that sensorimotor cortex (SMC) and its corticospinal tract (CST) output have a key role in H-reflex conditioning, and that H-reflex conditioning can improve locomotion after spinal cord injury. Based on this work, this proposal will test the hypotheses that: (1) specific changes in SMC neuronal activity precede and lead the changes in the H-reflex;and (2) therapeutic interventions that improve motor function by changing H-reflex size do so by changing SMC activity. The next grant period will evaluate these hypotheses: by defining the changes in SMC activity that precede and accompany soleus H-reflex conditioning;and by showing that therapeutic interventions that change H-reflex size cause changes in SMC activity that underlie the changes in H-reflex size and the associated functional improvements, and that these functional improvements persist after H-reflex conditioning ends. These aims will be addressed by studying SMC neuronal activity, H-reflexes, and locomotor function before, during, and after up-conditioning or down-conditioning of the soleus H-reflex in normal rats and in rats with spinal cord lesions that create locomotor abnormalities. The results should reveal the neuronal mechanisms by which the SMC induces and maintains the plasticity responsible for a simple motor skill. They should also spur development of new protocols that modify SMC neuronal activity so as to induce and guide spinal cord plasticity to help restore useful function after spinal cord injury or with other CNS damage or disease. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE Motor skills are acquired and maintained throughout life by changes in both the brain and the spinal cord. This project will use a simple laboratory model to learn how these changes interact to support motor skills. This work should lead to new methods for inducing changes in brain and spinal cord that help to improve motor function after spinal cord injury or in other disorders.
Funding Period: 1985-04-01 - 2013-04-30
more information: NIH RePORT

Top Publications

  1. pmc Locomotor impact of beneficial or nonbeneficial H-reflex conditioning after spinal cord injury
    Yi Chen
    Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany, New York
    J Neurophysiol 111:1249-58. 2014
  2. pmc Operant conditioning of a spinal reflex can improve locomotion after spinal cord injury in humans
    Aiko K Thompson
    Helen Hayes Hospital, New York State Department of Health, West Haverstraw, New York 10993, USA
    J Neurosci 33:2365-75. 2013
  3. pmc Soleus H-reflex operant conditioning changes the H-reflex recruitment curve
    Aiko K Thompson
    Helen Hayes Hospital, New York State Department of Health, Route 9W, West Haverstraw, New York 10993, USA
    Muscle Nerve 47:539-44. 2013
  4. pmc Cortical stimulation causes long-term changes in H-reflexes and spinal motoneuron GABA receptors
    Yu Wang
    Laboratory of Neural Injury and Repair, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health and State University of New York, Albany, New York 12201 0509, USA
    J Neurophysiol 108:2668-78. 2012
  5. pmc External urethral sphincter motoneuron properties in adult female rats studied in vitro
    Jonathan S Carp
    Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, PO Box 509, Albany, NY 12201 0509, USA
    J Neurophysiol 104:1286-300. 2010
  6. pmc Reflex conditioning: a new strategy for improving motor function after spinal cord injury
    Xiang Yang Chen
    New York State Department of Health, Wadsworth Center, Albany, New York 12201 0509, USA
    Ann N Y Acad Sci 1198:E12-21. 2010
  7. doi What can the spinal cord teach us about learning and memory?
    Jonathan R Wolpaw
    Laboratory of Neural Injury and Repair, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY 12201 0509, USA
    Neuroscientist 16:532-49. 2010
  8. pmc H-reflex up-conditioning encourages recovery of EMG activity and H-reflexes after sciatic nerve transection and repair in rats
    Yi Chen
    Wadsworth Center, Laboratory of Neural Injury and Repair, New York State Department Health and State University of New York at Albany, Albany, New York 12201 0509, USA
    J Neurosci 30:16128-36. 2010
  9. pmc Operant conditioning of rat soleus H-reflex oppositely affects another H-reflex and changes locomotor kinematics
    Yi Chen
    Laboratory of Neural Injury and Repair, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health and State University of New York at Albany, Albany, New York 12201 0509, USA
    J Neurosci 31:11370-5. 2011
  10. pmc H-reflex modulation in the human medial and lateral gastrocnemii during standing and walking
    Yukiko Makihara
    Program in Human Movement Science, Department of Allied Health Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
    Muscle Nerve 45:116-25. 2012

Scientific Experts

Detail Information

Publications31

  1. pmc Locomotor impact of beneficial or nonbeneficial H-reflex conditioning after spinal cord injury
    Yi Chen
    Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany, New York
    J Neurophysiol 111:1249-58. 2014
    ..Spinal reflex conditioning protocols might complement other neurorehabilitation methods and enhance recovery...
  2. pmc Operant conditioning of a spinal reflex can improve locomotion after spinal cord injury in humans
    Aiko K Thompson
    Helen Hayes Hospital, New York State Department of Health, West Haverstraw, New York 10993, USA
    J Neurosci 33:2365-75. 2013
    ..Because they are able to target specific spinal pathways, these protocols could be designed to address each individual's particular deficits, and might thereby complement other rehabilitation methods...
  3. pmc Soleus H-reflex operant conditioning changes the H-reflex recruitment curve
    Aiko K Thompson
    Helen Hayes Hospital, New York State Department of Health, Route 9W, West Haverstraw, New York 10993, USA
    Muscle Nerve 47:539-44. 2013
    ..Operant conditioning can gradually change the human soleus H-reflex. The protocol conditions the reflex near M-wave threshold. In this study we examine its impact on the reflexes at other stimulus strengths...
  4. pmc Cortical stimulation causes long-term changes in H-reflexes and spinal motoneuron GABA receptors
    Yu Wang
    Laboratory of Neural Injury and Repair, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health and State University of New York, Albany, New York 12201 0509, USA
    J Neurophysiol 108:2668-78. 2012
    ..The changes in GABAergic terminals and GABA(B) receptors accurately predicted the changes in H-reflex size. The results reveal a new long-term dimension to cortical-spinal interactions and raise new therapeutic possibilities...
  5. pmc External urethral sphincter motoneuron properties in adult female rats studied in vitro
    Jonathan S Carp
    Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, PO Box 509, Albany, NY 12201 0509, USA
    J Neurophysiol 104:1286-300. 2010
    ....
  6. pmc Reflex conditioning: a new strategy for improving motor function after spinal cord injury
    Xiang Yang Chen
    New York State Department of Health, Wadsworth Center, Albany, New York 12201 0509, USA
    Ann N Y Acad Sci 1198:E12-21. 2010
    ..In addition, once clinically significant regeneration can be achieved, reflex conditioning could provide a means of reeducating the newly (and probably imperfectly) reconnected spinal cord...
  7. doi What can the spinal cord teach us about learning and memory?
    Jonathan R Wolpaw
    Laboratory of Neural Injury and Repair, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY 12201 0509, USA
    Neuroscientist 16:532-49. 2010
    ..In addition, they offer new approaches to guiding activity-dependent plasticity so as to restore functions lost to injury or disease...
  8. pmc H-reflex up-conditioning encourages recovery of EMG activity and H-reflexes after sciatic nerve transection and repair in rats
    Yi Chen
    Wadsworth Center, Laboratory of Neural Injury and Repair, New York State Department Health and State University of New York at Albany, Albany, New York 12201 0509, USA
    J Neurosci 30:16128-36. 2010
    ..These results suggest that H-reflex up-conditioning may improve functional recovery after nerve injury and repair...
  9. pmc Operant conditioning of rat soleus H-reflex oppositely affects another H-reflex and changes locomotor kinematics
    Yi Chen
    Laboratory of Neural Injury and Repair, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health and State University of New York at Albany, Albany, New York 12201 0509, USA
    J Neurosci 31:11370-5. 2011
    ..g., locomotion) that would otherwise be disturbed by the change in the SOL(R) H-reflex pathway. The changes in joint angles, coupled with the preservation of hip height, suggest that compensatory plasticity did occur...
  10. pmc H-reflex modulation in the human medial and lateral gastrocnemii during standing and walking
    Yukiko Makihara
    Program in Human Movement Science, Department of Allied Health Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
    Muscle Nerve 45:116-25. 2012
    ..The soleus H-reflex is dynamically modulated during walking. However, modulation of the gastrocnemii H-reflexes has not been studied systematically...
  11. pmc Acquisition of a simple motor skill: task-dependent adaptation plus long-term change in the human soleus H-reflex
    Aiko K Thompson
    Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany, New York 12201 0509, USA
    J Neurosci 29:5784-92. 2009
    ..In combination with previous data, this new finding further elucidates the interaction of plasticity in brain and spinal cord that underlies the acquisition and maintenance of motor skills...
  12. pmc H-reflex down-conditioning greatly increases the number of identifiable GABAergic interneurons in rat ventral horn
    Yu Wang
    Laboratory of Nervous System Disorders, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, and School of Public Health, State University of New York, P O Box 509, Albany, NY 12201 0509, USA
    Neurosci Lett 452:124-9. 2009
    ..This finding supports the hypothesis that the corticospinal tract influence that induces the motoneuron plasticity underlying down-conditioning reaches the motoneuron through GABAergic interneurons in the ventral horn...
  13. pmc Effects of H-reflex up-conditioning on GABAergic terminals on rat soleus motoneurons
    Shreejith Pillai
    Laboratory of Nervous System Disorders, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health and State University of New York, Albany, NY 12201, USA
    Eur J Neurosci 28:668-74. 2008
    ..As a variety of spinal and supraspinal GABAergic neurons innervate motoneurons, the changes found with up-conditioning may be in terminals other than those affected in successful down-conditioning...
  14. pmc An in vitro protocol for recording from spinal motoneurons of adult rats
    Jonathan S Carp
    Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany, New York 12201 0509, USA
    J Neurophysiol 100:474-81. 2008
    ....
  15. ncbi Modulation in spinal circuits and corticospinal connections following nerve stimulation and operant conditioning
    Aiko K Thompson
    Wadsworth Center for Labs and Res, New York State Dept of Health, Albany, NY 12201, USA
    Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc 1:2138-41. 2006
    ..We hope that studying modulation and modification o- f the CNS by different approaches will help us further understand the plasticity of the human adult nervous system...
  16. ncbi Spinal cord plasticity in acquisition and maintenance of motor skills
    J R Wolpaw
    Wadsworth Center, Laboratory of Nervous System Disorders, New York State Department of Health and State University of New York, Albany, NY 12201 0509, USA
    Acta Physiol (Oxf) 189:155-69. 2007
    ..Induction and guidance of activity-dependent spinal cord plasticity will probably play an important role in realization of effective new rehabilitation methods for spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy and other motor disorders...
  17. ncbi Long-term spinal reflex studies in awake behaving mice
    Jonathan S Carp
    Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, PO Box 509, Albany, NY 12201 0509, USA
    J Neurosci Methods 149:134-43. 2005
    ..This study demonstrates the feasibility of long-term continuous EMG recordings in mice for addressing a variety of neurophysiological and behavioral issues...
  18. ncbi The interaction of a new motor skill and an old one: H-reflex conditioning and locomotion in rats
    Yi Chen
    Laboratory of Nervous System Disorders, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, State University of New York, Albany, New York 12201, USA
    J Neurosci 25:6898-906. 2005
    ..They also suggest that H-reflex conditioning might be used to improve the abnormal locomotion produced by spinal cord injury or other disorders of supraspinal control...
  19. ncbi Diurnal H-reflex variation in mice
    Jonathan S Carp
    Laboratory of Nervous System Disorders, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, State University of New York, Albany, NY 12201 0509, USA
    Exp Brain Res 168:517-28. 2006
    ..This variation should be taken into account in experimental and clinical studies of spinal reflexes recorded at different times of day...
  20. ncbi Motor learning changes GABAergic terminals on spinal motoneurons in normal rats
    Yu Wang
    Laboratory of Nervous System Disorders, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health and State University of New York, PO Box 509, Albany, NY 12201, USA
    Eur J Neurosci 23:141-50. 2006
    ..The present results demonstrate that such spinal cord plasticity also occurs in intact rats in the course of motor learning and suggest that this plasticity contributes to skill acquisition...
  21. pmc The cerebellum in maintenance of a motor skill: a hierarchy of brain and spinal cord plasticity underlies H-reflex conditioning
    Jonathan R Wolpaw
    Laboratory of Nervous System Disorders Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health and State University of New York at Albany, Albany, New York 12201 0509, USA
    Learn Mem 13:208-15. 2006
    ..Thus, H-reflex conditioning seems to depend on a hierarchy of brain and spinal cord plasticity to which the cerebellum makes an essential contribution...
  22. ncbi Sensorimotor cortex ablation prevents H-reflex up-conditioning and causes a paradoxical response to down-conditioning in rats
    Xiang Yang Chen
    Wadsworth Center, Laboratory of Nervous System Disorders, New York State Department of Health and State University of New York, Albany, NY 12201 0509, USA
    J Neurophysiol 96:119-27. 2006
    ..Its interactions with ipsilateral SMC or other areas contribute to the complex pattern of spinal and supraspinal plasticity that underlies H-reflex conditioning...
  23. ncbi Plasticity from muscle to brain
    Jonathan R Wolpaw
    Laboratory of Nervous System Disorders, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health and State University of New York, Albany, 12201, USA
    Prog Neurobiol 78:233-63. 2006
    ..It emphasizes aspects of his contributions that are less well known at present and yet are directly relevant to contemporary issues...
  24. ncbi Operant conditioning of reciprocal inhibition in rat soleus muscle
    Xiang Yang Chen
    Wadsworth Center, Laboratory of Nervous System Disorders, New York State Department of Health and State University of New York, Albany, New York 12201 0509, USA
    J Neurophysiol 96:2144-50. 2006
    ..Final SOL RI and TA H-reflex sizes were significantly correlated. Thus like the SSR and the H-reflex, RI can be operantly conditioned; and conditioning one reflex can affect another reflex as well...
  25. ncbi H-reflex operant conditioning in mice
    Jonathan S Carp
    Laboratory of Neurons System Disorder, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY 12201 0509, USA
    J Neurophysiol 96:1718-27. 2006
    ..Thus mice exhibit HR operant conditioning comparable with that observed in rats and monkeys...
  26. ncbi Corticospinal tract transection permanently abolishes H-reflex down-conditioning in rats
    Xiang Yang Chen
    Laboratory of Nervous System Disorder, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health and State University of New York, Albany, New York 12201 0509, USA
    J Neurotrauma 23:1705-12. 2006
    ..The results also suggest that the role of sensorimotor cortex in down-conditioning extends beyond generation of the essential CST activity...
  27. ncbi Recovery of electromyographic activity after transection and surgical repair of the rat sciatic nerve
    Arthur W English
    Department of Cell Biology, Emory University School of Medicine, 615 Michael Street, Room 405P, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
    J Neurophysiol 97:1127-34. 2007
    ..Similar gradual development of responses to posterior tibial nerve stimulation was also seen in TA, suggesting that some regenerating fibers sent branches into both tibial and common peroneal nerves...
  28. ncbi Operant conditioning of H-reflex can correct a locomotor abnormality after spinal cord injury in rats
    Yi Chen
    Laboratory of Nervous System Disorders, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health and State University of New York, Albany, New York 12201, USA
    J Neurosci 26:12537-43. 2006
    ..Such protocols might be especially useful when significant regeneration becomes possible and precise methods for reeducating the regenerated spinal cord neurons and synapses are needed for restoring effective function...
  29. ncbi The education and re-education of the spinal cord
    Jonathan R Wolpaw
    Wadsworth Center, Laboratory of Nervous System Disorders, New York State Department of Health and State University of New York, Albany, NY 12201, USA
    Prog Brain Res 157:261-280. 2006
    ....
  30. pmc Ablation of cerebellar nuclei prevents H-reflex down-conditioning in rats
    Xiang Yang Chen
    Laboratory of Nervous System Disorders, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health and State University of New York at Albany, Albany, New York 12201 0509, USA
    Learn Mem 12:248-54. 2005
    ....