We have demonstrated previously that microstimulation in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) can selectively evoke activity in primary afferent neurons in anesthetized cats. This study describes the results of experiments focused on characterizing the postural effects of DRG microstimulation in awake cats during quiet standing.
To understand the parameters of stimulation that can affect these postural shifts, we measured changes in ground reaction forces (GRF) while varying stimulation location and amplitude. Four animals were chronically implanted at the L6 and L7 DRG with penetrating multichannel microelectrode arrays. During each week of testing, we identified electrode channels that recruited primary afferent neurons with fast (80–120 m s −1) and medium (30–75 m s −1) conduction velocities, and selected one channel to deliver current-controlled biphasic stimulation trains during quiet standing.
Postural responses were identified by changes in GRFs and were characterized based on their magnitude and latency. During DRG microstimulation, animals did not exhibit obvious signs of distress or discomfort, which could be indicative of pain or aversion to a noxious sensation. Across 56 total weeks, 13 electrode channels evoked behavioral responses, as detected by a significant change in GRF. Stimulation amplitude modulated the magnitude of the GRF responses for these 13 channels ( p < 0.001). It was not possible to predict whether or not an electrode would drive a behavioral response based on information including conduction velocity, recruitment threshold, or the DRG in which it resided.