Vagal elicitation of respiratory-type and other unit responses in basal limbic structures of squirrel monkeys

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Radna RJ and MacLean PD (1981) Vagal elicitation of respiratory-type and other unit responses in basal limbic structures of squirrel monkeys. Brain Res 213:1 45–61.

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Abstract: Basal limbic structures (insula, amygdala, hippocampus and surrounding areas) were explored for unit responses to vagal volleys in awake, sitting, squirrel monkeys. Triple shocks were applied every 4 sec to the left cervical vagus nerve. As a control for adventitious activation by extravagal somatic afferents, units responsive to vagal volleys were also tested during shock-induced facial and cervical twitches. Under the given conditions, 16% of a population of more than 200 limbic units responded only to vagal volleys. The ratio of initially excited to initially inhibited units was about 2:3. The response latencies were indicative of both rapidly and slowly conducting, afferent pathways. The entrainment of respiration by vagal volleys revealed that 6% of the tested units discharged with a periodicity commensurate with the respiratory rhythm. Such respiratory units were found in the anterior amygdala, insula and hippocampus. In the case of the hippocampus it can be concluded that the discharge of respiratory-type units is not dependent on olfactory inputs. In the amygdala, the highest percentage of responsive units was found in the central nucleus; none were of a respiratory-type. The particular interest of the respiratory-type units found in this and the preceding study is discussed.

Keywords: vagus nerve - - insula - - amygdala - - hippocampus - - entorhinal cortex - - respiration-related units


  • Animal study in squirrel monkey involving stimulation of the vagus nerve with recording in limbic structures. Activity of the same periodicity as respiration was observed in 6% of neurons, with locations in anterior amygdala, insula and hippocampus. Another study that saw insula and temporal pole effects from stimulus in mokeys was Kaada et al.