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Cell. 2015 Nov 19;163(5):1191-1203. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.10.074.

Descending Command Neurons in the Brainstem that Halt Locomotion.

Author information

1
Mammalian Locomotor Laboratory, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, 17177 Stockholm, Sweden; Paris-Saclay Institute of Neuroscience, UMR 9197 - CNRS and Université-Paris 11, 91190 Gif-sur-Yvette, France. Electronic address: julien.bouvier@inaf.cnrs-gif.fr.
2
Mammalian Locomotor Laboratory, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, 17177 Stockholm, Sweden.
3
Institute of Physiology, Christian Albrechts University of Kiel, 24098 Kiel, Germany.
4
Mammalian Locomotor Laboratory, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, 17177 Stockholm, Sweden. Electronic address: ole.kiehn@ki.se.

Abstract

The episodic nature of locomotion is thought to be controlled by descending inputs from the brainstem. Most studies have largely attributed this control to initiating excitatory signals, but little is known about putative commands that may specifically determine locomotor offset. To link identifiable brainstem populations to a potential locomotor stop signal, we used developmental genetics and considered a discrete neuronal population in the reticular formation: the V2a neurons. We find that those neurons constitute a major excitatory pathway to locomotor areas of the ventral spinal cord. Selective activation of V2a neurons of the rostral medulla stops ongoing locomotor activity, owing to an inhibition of premotor locomotor networks in the spinal cord. Moreover, inactivation of such neurons decreases spontaneous stopping in vivo. Therefore, the V2a "stop neurons" represent a glutamatergic descending pathway that favors immobility and may thus help control the episodic nature of locomotion.

PMID:
26590422
PMCID:
PMC4899047
DOI:
10.1016/j.cell.2015.10.074
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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