Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology

Major Professor

Bruce G. Lindsey, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Kendall F. Morris, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John R. Dietz, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eric S. Bennett, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Samuel Saporta, Ph.D.


Control of breathing, brainstem respiratory network, respiratory modulation, cross-correlation, rostral ventral lateral medulla, Mayer waves


Ventrolateral medullary neurons have important roles in cardiorespiratory coordination. A rostral extension of the ventral respiratory column (RVRC), including the retrotrapezoid nucleus (RTN), has neurons responsive to local perturbations of CO2 / pH. Respiratory-modulated firing patterns of RVRC neurons are attributed to influences of more caudal (CVRC) neurons. These circuits remain poorly understood. This study addressed the hypothesis that both local interactions and influences from the CVRC shape rostral neuron discharge patterns and responses. Spike trains from 294 rostral and 490 caudal neurons were recorded with multi-electrode arrays along with phrenic nerve activity in 14 decerebrate, vagotomized cats. Overall, 214 rostral and 398 caudal neurons were respiratory-modulated; 124 and 95, respectively, were cardiac-modulated. Subsets of these neurons were evaluated for responses to sequential, selective, transient stimulation of central and peripheral chemoreceptors and arterial baroreceptors. In 5 experiments, Mayer wave-related oscillations (MWROs) in neuronal firing rates were evoked, enhanced, or reduced following central chemoreceptor stimulation. Overall, 174 of the rostral neurons (59.5%) had short- time scale correlations with other RVRC neurons. Of these, 49 triggered cross-correlograms with RVRC targets yielding 330 offset features indicative of paucisynaptic actions from a total of 2,884 rostral pairs evaluated. Forty-nine of the CVRC neurons (10.0%) were triggers in 142 CVRC-RVRC correlograms - from a total of 8,490 - with offset features indicative of actions on RVRC neurons. Correlation linkage maps support the hypothesis that local circuit mechanisms contribute to the respiratory and cardiac modulation of RVRC neurons and their responses to chemoreceptor and baroreceptor challenges.