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The spinal cord is "smarter" than previously thought



Published 12/02/2019 7:14:32salvo

MADRID, February 12 (press EUROPA) –

We often think that our brain is at the center of complex motor functioning and control, but how intelligent is our spinal cord? It turns out that it is smarter than we think, according to a new study from the University of Western Ontario ("Western"), in Canada.

It is well known that circuits in this part of our nervous system, which travel along our spine, seemingly control simple things like reflex pain in humans and some motor control functions in animals. Now, this work has shown that the spinal cord can also process and control more complex functions, such as the position of the hand in outer space.

"This study showed that at least one of the important functions is carried out at the spinal cord level and opens up a new field of research to say," What else is done at the spinal level and what else have we missed in this area? "Said Andrew Prushinsky, principal investigator and head of research at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry of Western and a Canadian research professor at Sensomotor Neuroscience.

The study, "The reflexes of manual spinal support and manual manual support", are published in the digital edition of the journal Nature Neuroscience. This type of manual control requires sensory input from multiple joints, especially the elbow and wrist, previously thought that these inputs were processed and made motor commands by the cortex.

Using special robotic technology, an exoskeleton with three degrees of freedom at the brain and brain institute of the West, subjects were asked to keep their hand in place of the target and then the robot pushed it from the target by bending or extending the arm and elbow at the same time. The scientists measured the time it takes for the muscles of the elbow and wrist to respond to the robot's blow and whether these responses helped the hands to return to the initial goal.

VERETRAL circuits produce answers

By measuring latency, or "delay", in response, they were able to determine whether processing occurs in the brain or spinal cord. "We found that these reactions happen so fast that the only place they can form is in the periphery themselves," says lead author, Dr. Jeff Weiler, a postdoctoral scientist at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry.

He adds: "What we see is that these virtual circuits do not really care what happens in the individual joints, they care where the hand is in the outside world, and they create a reaction that tries to put the hand back in place."

This reaction is created by the spinal cord called "stretch reflex" and has previously been considered very limited in terms of how the movement helps. "Historically, it is believed that these reflexes in the spine only act to restore the length of the muscles that happened before the stretch occurred," says Pruszynski, "We show that they can really do something much more complicated: to control the hand and the space."

This finding adds greatly to our understanding of neuroscience and neurosurgery and provides new information and goals for the science of rehabilitation. "Understanding neurocircuits is fundamental to any progress on the rehabilitation front – says Pruszynski, who is also a scientist at the Roberts Research Institute in Western and brain and brain brains – here we can see how this knowledge can lead to different types of training regimens that focus In the circles of the spine. "


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