Researchers at Stanford University studying paralysis have found that groups of neurons together display complex firing patterns when signalling and controlling muscle movement.
Previously there were two theories about how neurons might control muscles. One was an indirect method, in which instructions were fired to another area of the brain in order to be translated. The other was that the motor cortex neurons themselves send a direct signal to the desired muscles. This research shows that neurons work as a dynamic, interconnected circuit – creating rhythmic patterns which are then transmitted down to the muscle tissue, driving contraction.
Understanding the intricacies of how our brain controls movement provides a platform for repairing movement in patients and better controlling movement in technology like artificial limbs, overcoming paralysis.
Read more at EurekAlert