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Trends Neurosci. 2003 May;26(5):269-76.

Sophisticated spinal contributions to motor control.

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Department of Neuroscience, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


The neural circuitry of the spinal cord is capable of solving some of the most complex problems in motor control. Therefore, spinal mechanisms are much more sophisticated than many neuroscientists give them credit for. A key issue in motor control is how sensory inputs direct and inform motor output,--that is, the sensorimotor process. Other major issues involve the actual control of the motor apparatus. In general, there are at least three basic requirements for motor control: the transformations that map information from sensory to motor coordinates, the specification of individual muscle activations to achieve a kinematic goal, and the control of multiple degrees of freedom. Here, we make the case that the vertebrate spinal cord has the capacity to solve each of these problems to a degree that is relevant for normal behavior.

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