The delayed and asynchronous firing of chromatolytic motoneurons in response to group I afferent volleys is shown to be evoked monosynaptically, there being an abnormally long and variable delay between onset of monosynaptic action and generation of impulse discharge. Intensity of monosynaptic excitatory action is reduced, and considerable variability in the form of successively evoked postsynaptic potentials is often observed. No evidence has been found for the development of excitatory group I polysynaptic pathways.
Reduction in responsiveness of finer dendrites is indicated by the feeble "d" response evoked by an antidromic volley in a chromatolytic motor nucleus. Antidromic impulses appear to invade the cell bodies and coarse dendrites, but die out at points short of the normal extent of dendritic invasion. Vigorous firing of Renshaw cells can be elicited by antidromic volleys.
Chromatolytic motoneurons appear to maintain reasonably normal resting membrane potentials, but are more susceptible to damage than are normal cells. Action potentials are large and usually overshoot the resting potential level. Post spike potentials are similar to those of normal cells except for a less prominent, or absent, early phase of depolarisation.
In contrast with the reduced responsiveness of peripheral dendrites, there is a lowered threshold for antidromic and segmental reflex synaptic activation of the more central regions, probably the cell bodies and nearby coarse dendrites, of motoneurons undergoing chromatolysis.