Sensory and motor responses of trigeminal and reticular neurons during ingestive behavior in rats

T. Yamamoto, R. Matsuo, Y. Kiyomitsu, R. Kitamura

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Activities of 53 neurons in the brain stem were recorded with chronically implanted fine wires in freely eating and drinking rats. Twenty units were isolated from the trigeminal mesencephalic nucleus; 18 were spindle afferents and 2 periodontal afferents. The spindle units were classified into 4 types: 5 units showed rhythmical activity related only to the jaw opening phase during both licking and chewing, 8 units discharged at jaw opening phase during licking, but both at jaw opening and jaw closing phases during eating, 2 units increased phasic activity at jaw opening phase during licking, but increased tonically independent of jaw movements during eating, and the remaining 3 units responded only at jaw closing phase both in licking and eating behavior. Nine units were assumed to be alpha motoneurons isolated from the trigeminal motor nucleus; 2 innervating the temporalis muscle, 3 the masseter muscle, 2 the digastric muscle, and the remaining 2 presumably the pterygoid muscles. These units, with a mean tonic spontaneous rate of about 10 impulses/ s, showed phase-related rhythmical burst activities during licking and eating. Four units were isolated from the trigeminal main sensory nucleus. Sixteen units were isolated from the medullary reticular formation and 1 from the pontine reticular formation. Of these 16 units, 3 from the parvocellular part of the medullary reticular formation were presumably premotor interneurons, and 3 units in the "intertrigeminal region", 2 units in the "juxtatrigeminal region", and 8 units in the "supratrigeminal region" were responsive to multiple sensory modalities. These results demonstrate that almost all the units sampled showed characteristic rhythmic activities associated with the position of the tongue or mandible during rhythmical jaw movements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)386-400
Number of pages15
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1989


  • Brain stem neurons
  • Licking
  • Mastication
  • Muscle afferents
  • Reticular formation
  • Trigeminal nuclei

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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