Goldfish abducens motoneurons: physiological and anatomical specialization

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Science  26 Sep 1975:
Vol. 189, Issue 4208, pp. 1091-1093
DOI: 10.1126/science.1162358


During natural movements, the motoneurons innervating a single muscle have different patterns of activity that are correlated with differences in synaptic input. The caudal abducens motoneurons fire phasically in synchronous bursts before rapid posterior eye movements; the rostral abducens motoneurons fire only tonically when the eye is fixed or moving slowly. This physiological difference is not related to motoneuron size. In this respect the abducens motoneurons violate the "size principle" that has been advanced for spinal motoneurons. The difference is probably related to the present finding that the caudal but not the rostral cells receive numerous electrical synapses that are known to have a role in synchronizing phasic activity.