The effects of microstimulation of the rostral portion of the corpus callosum (CC) were examined in seven chronic cats submitted to either unilateral motor cortex ablation (5 preparations) or transection of the rostral two thirds of the CC (2 preparations) in order to identify the routes (ortho- or antidromic) followed by callosal impulses to provoke the motor effects. As in intact animals, motor responses in lesioned preparations consisted of very localized contractions of shoulder, whisker, or eyelid muscles, according to the stimulated sites. Unlike intact animals in which motor responses upon CC microstimulation were bilateral and symmetrical (Spidalieri and Guandalini 1983), in lesioned preparations they appeared contralaterally to the emitting hemisphere, i.e., they were contralateral to the stimulated callosal stump (split-brain preparations) and ipsilateral to the side of the cortical lesion (preparations with unilateral motor cortex ablation), regardless of the current intensity applied (up to a maximum of 50 microA). The unilateral motor responses occurred by the first day after lesion and persisted for the duration of the experiments which lasted to a month or more. Since orthograde degeneration of callosal fibres deprived of their somata has been shown by previous anatomical studies to be complete within 11 days after lesion, these results indicate that selective antidromic activation of callosal fibres is capable of eliciting motor responses. Thresholds for the motor effects in lesioned preparations proved to be from 1.3 to 3.9 (mean, = 2.4 +/- 0.7 SD) times higher than those found before motor cortex ablation. By 18 days after lesion a decrease of threshold currents for the motor responses was observed ranging from 6 to 37% (mean, = 24.2 +/- 13.6 SD), depending on the stimulated sites, relative to values previously found. The shortest train duration and the lowest frequency for minimum threshold were longer (40 vs. 30 ms) and higher (400 vs. 300 Hz), respectively in lesioned preparations than in intact controls. Moreover, a decrease in train duration or frequency provoked larger threshold increases in lesioned preparations than those observed in intact animals. As a whole, these results suggest that in intact animals the motor effects are also mediated by orthodromic callosal volleys
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