A fundamental question in motor control is how discrete modular elements of movement are coordinated into skilled motor output; e.g. reaching for and grasping an object while maintaining postural stability. Our approach is to analyse the neural circuits specialized in this control by an evolutionary comparison to understand how these movements have been refined from rodents to humans.
We use a combination of techniques including: a. electrophysiological characterization of motoneurons and pre-motor interneuron circuits; b. genetically and virally-mediated manipulation of these circuits in awake, behaving mice, including selective pharmacological ablation and reversible optogenetic excitation or inhibition; and c. 3D kinematic behavioural assays of reaching and grasping. In addition, we investigate how internal feed-back signals from these neural circuits can be used to refine and correct on-going reaching, grasping and posture.
We also try to understand recovery following spinal cord injury, with the long term aim of stimulating non-injured pathways to compensate the loss of lesioned systems.
Contact person: Drs. Juan Jiang (China) Professor Bror Alstermark has left us. Please contact Juan Jiang.
National collaborations: Drs. Pettersson (Gothenburg) and Ekerot (Lund).
International collaborations: Drs. Isa (Japan), Jessell (USA) and Lan (China). Azim (USA) and Ogawa (Japan).
Our work is supported by the Swedish Research Council
Head of research
Participating departments and units at Umeå University