Mastodon Scientific Frontline: A brain circuit underpinning locomotor speed control

Thursday, November 24, 2022

A brain circuit underpinning locomotor speed control

Zebrafish Photo Credit: Petr Kuznetsov

Researchers at Karolinska have uncovered how brain circuits encode the start, duration and sudden change of speed of locomotion. The study is published in the journal Neuron.

Important findings

By exploiting the relative accessibility of adult zebrafish, combined with a broad range of techniques, the researchers can now reveal two brain circuits that encode the start, duration and sudden change in locomotor speed.

The brain circuits represent the initial step in the sequence of commands coding for the onset, duration, speed and vigor of locomotion. The two command streams revealed here, with their direct access to the spinal circuits, allow the animal to navigate through their environment by grading the speed and strength of their locomotor movements, while at the same time controlling directionality. These mechanisms in adult zebrafish can be extrapolated to mammalian model systems.

Mapping connectivity

The next step will be to map the connectivity between these brain circuits and those in the spinal cord driving locomotion.

Hopefully, the circuit revealed in the study can guide designing novel therapeutic strategies aimed at restoring motor function after traumatic spinal cord injury.

The study was financed by The Swedish Research Council, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, The Swedish Brain Foundation.

Source/Credit: Karolinska Institutet | Charlotte Brandt

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