J Korean Neurosurg Soc.  1991 Sep;20(9):762-770.

The Intraspinal Pathways Conducting Motor Evoked Potentials in Rats

  • 1Departments of Neurosurgery, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Departments of Neurosurgery, College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul, Korea Korea.
  • 3Miami Project, Department of Neurological surgery, University of Miami, School of Medicine, Miami, U.S.A.


Recently, motor evoked potential(MEP) using cortical surface of transcranial stimulation have been used to monitor the integrity of motor pathways and map motor cortex in human and animal. The primary concept using motor evoked potentials(MEPs) for test of motor pathways was based on the assumtion that pyramidal neurons in the motor cortex are activated by electrical stimulation applied on the cerebral cortex and synchronized compound action potentials are conducted mainly along the corticospinal tracts in the spinal cord. However, the origins and the descending pathways of these MEPs in small animals may be different from those of potentials evoked by intracortical microstimulation because of current spread. Our previous study revealed that the origns of the MEPs in rats differed from those previously believed and may be reticular nuclei. To further clarify those results and localize the intraspinal pathways conduction MEPs, consecutive vertical and/or horizontal sections of the spinal cord were performed at T9 cord level in twelve rats. MEPs were recorded at T2/3 and L2/3 before and after each section and sequential alterations of MEPs were observed. In six rats, the stimulation was alternated between the right and left cortex and the lateralities of conduction pathways were compared. All six cases showed no differences of MEPs and pattern of wave abolition after each section between right and left brain stimulation. The alteration of MEPs after each consecutive section was categorized by analyzing latency shift, amplitude change, and disappearance of waves. We divided a cross section of T9 spinal cord into forty-six squares. If one of the categorized changes occurrd after cutting an area, the appropriate score was given for the area since more change of waves meant more significant contribution of the cut area to conduction of MEPs. The score of twelev rats were summed in each forty-six spots and map showing the distribution of MEPs was constructed. The map revealed that MEPs were conducted along the wide area of ventral and lateral funiculus of the spinal cord but mainly along the medial portion of the ventral funiculus of the spinal cord but mainly along the medial portion of the ventral funiculus and ventral portion of the larteral funiculus through which reticulospinal and vestibulospinal tracts pass. No conduction of MEPs along the corticospinal tracts was confirmed. This finding supports the result of our previous study. However, this extrapyramidal MEP conducted along ventral spinal cord in addition to somatosensory evoked potential(SSEP) which is conducted along posterior funiculus can be useful to monitor the integrity of the whole spinal cord. Moreover, the extrapyramidal MEP can be more useful than pyramidal MEP in rats because the reticular formation plays a more important role in motor function and pyramidal tract is located in posterior funiculus.


Motor evoked potential; Pyramidal tract; Extrapyramidal tract; Reticular formation

MeSH Terms

Action Potentials
Cerebral Cortex
Efferent Pathways
Electric Stimulation
Evoked Potentials, Motor*
Extrapyramidal Tracts
Motor Cortex
Pyramidal Tracts
Reticular Formation
Spinal Cord
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