A spinal neural circuit keeps mice moving

Wellcome Trust [creativecommons license] via Wikimedia Commons

Among many other jobs, the nervous system uses streams of information gathered from multiple senses to guide movement. The eyes detect obstacles. Balance gauges in the ears keep the head level. And sensors in the muscles and joints monitor limb position. Much of the resulting flood of information is preprocessed by sensory circuits before it reaches the brain. Visual signals, for instance, are processed by neurons and light sensors at the back of the eye before being transmitted to the visual centers in the brain. It seemed likely that touch signals were similarly processed by neural circuits in the spinal cord, but such circuits had not been identified—until recently. Neurobiologists at Salk Institute (La Jolla, CA) have now mapped the neural circuitry of the spinal cord that processes the sense of light touch by integrating motor commands from the brain with sensory signals from the limbs in mice.

Lab Anim. (NY) 44, 78 (2015).
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