Tuning spinal motoneurons for movement


  • Prof Robert Brownstone

    University College London

Project summary

In order to move, our muscles contract with precise forces and coordination. When these processes are disrupted by injury or disease, movements are impaired, resulting in decline in quality of life. To generate appropriate forces, the electrical activity of nerve cells in the spinal cord is finely tuned. Spinal motor neurons connect the central nervous system with muscles, and their activity causes muscles to contract with particular forces. Interestingly, the properties of each motor neuron match those of the type of muscle fibres it innervates. Professor Brownstone will investigate the mechanisms that govern the process of motor neuron tuning. In particular, he will focus on the role played by local spinal cord circuits in ensuring that motor neurons develop the electrical properties required for appropriate force generation. This knowledge will form the foundation of strategies aimed at correcting the neurological control of force production in diseases in which this is impaired.