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Title: Sensory and motor neuronal networks of the spinal cord
Author: Maxwell, David J.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2009
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This body of work is focused upon neuronal networks of the spinal cord which are involved in processing of sensory information and generation of motor output. It includes a detailed account of the synaptic organisation, target neurons and neurotransmitter content of central terminals of various classes of cutaneous and proprioceptive primary afferent axons. It shows that presynaptic boutons at axoaxonic synapses, which regulate primary afferent transmission, contain GABA but that other transmitters such as glycine, neuropeptide Y and acetylcholine may be co-localised in these structures. The principal conclusion is that certain subtypes of presynaptic inhibitory interneurons target the terminals of specific types of primary afferent fibres but the majority of these neurons do not form ‘pure’ presynaptic inhibitory systems because many of them also mediate postsynaptic inhibition. A further series of investigations provides a detailed analysis of the organisation of monoaminergic axon terminals and the receptors that they act upon. This work supports the existence of two parallel modes of action for monoamines in the cord; a diffuse (non-synaptic or paracrine) system and a specific system which acts through direct synaptic actions on particular target neurons. Serotonin, for example, acts as a general modulator but also regulates transmission in some pathways selectively. Amongst the cells that are targeted selectively, are interneurons in reflex pathways and a class of projection neuron which receives monosynaptic input from nociceptive primary afferent axons. More recently, the focus has been on the organization and neurochemical properties of spinal interneurons. A detailed analysis of interneurons has shown that there is a clear relationship between the action of a given interneuron (i.e. whether it is inhibitory or excitatory), its axonal projections and the classes of cell that it targets.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Sc.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available