Research Sheds Light on How Neurons Control Muscle Movement
Wed, 06/24/2015 – 11:04am
Studying the brain activity of two patients with Lou Gehrig’s disease has given researchers insight into how neurons control muscle movement. (Image: Oliver Burston)Stanford University researchers studying how the brain controls movement in people with paralysis, related to their diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease, have found that groups of neurons work together, firing in complex rhythms to signal muscles about when and where to move.
“We hope to apply these findings to create prosthetic devices, such as robotic arms, that better understand and respond to a person’s thoughts,” said Jaimie Henderson, M.D., professor of neurosurgery.
A paper describing the study was published online June 23 in eLife. Henderson, who holds the John and Jene Blume-Robert and Ruth Halperin Professorship, and Krishna Shenoy, Ph.D., professor of electrical engineering and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, share senior authorship of the paper. The lead author is postdoctoral scholar Chethan Pandarinath, Ph.D..
The study builds on groundbreaking Stanford animal research that fundamentally has changed how scientists think about how motor cortical neurons work to control movements. “The earlier research with animals showed that many of the firing patterns that seem so confusing when we look at individual neurons become clear when we look at large groups of neurons together as a dynamical system,” Pandarinath said.
Previously, researchers had two theories about how neurons in the motor cortex might control movement: One was that these neurons fired in patterns that represent more abstract commands, such as “move your arm to the right,” and then neurons in different brain areas would translate those instructions to guide the muscle contractions that make the arm move; the other was that the motor cortex neurons would actually send directions to the arm muscles, telling them how to contract.
But in a 2012 Nature paper, Shenoy and his colleagues reported finding that much more is going on: Motor cortical neurons work as part of an interconnected circuit — a so-called dynamical system — to create rhythmic patterns of neural activity. As these rhythmic patterns are sent to the arm, they drive muscle contractions, causing the arm to move.
“What we discovered in our preclinical work is evidence of how groups of neurons coordinate and cooperate with each other in a very particular way that gives us deeper insight into how the brain is controlling the arm,” Shenoy said.
He and his colleagues wanted to know whether neurons fired similarly in humans.
Recording human brain activity
To conduct the study, the researchers recorded motor cortical brain activity of two research participants with the degenerative neurological condition called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. The condition, which also is known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, damages neurons and causes patients to lose control over their muscles.
The participants, a 51-year-old woman who retained some movement in her fingers and wrists, and a 54-year-old man who could still move one of his index fingers slightly, are participants in the BrainGate2 trial, which is testing a neural interface system allowing thoughts to control computer cursors, robotic arms and other assistive devices.
These participants had electrode arrays implanted in their brains’ motor cortex for the trial. That allowed researchers to record electrical brain activity from individual neurons while the participants moved or tried to move their fingers and wrists, which were equipped with sensors to record physical movement. Typically, such mapping in humans can only occur during brain surgery.
The participants’ implants provided an “opportunity to ask important scientific questions,” Shenoysaid. The researchers found that the ALS patients’ neurons worked very similarly to the preclinical research findings.
Researchers now plan to use their data to improve the algorithms that translate neural activity in the form of electrical impulses into control signals that can guide a robotic arm or a computer cursor.
The study was funded by the Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neuroscience, Stanford BioX/NeuroVentures, the Stanford Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, the Garlick Foundation, the Reeve Foundation, the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the MGH-Deane Institute for Integrated Research on Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke.
Source: Stanford University
Welcome to Muscle-Matrix.com, A website for Personal Training
AAPTE Level 1 & 2 Certified Personal Trainer and Special Olympic USA National Exercise Coach, Consultant, Trainer , Ron Daniels
Click here to Contact us
Personal Training/Exercise Coach using Multiplex and Interval Techniques in order to establish Core-Balance and a state of Well-Being.
Strength Training problems with sudden unexplained weight lost,
when the goal is increase Muscle/Body Mass (BM)
Maintaining Body Mass for a life time will go along way to preserving health and well being. Real body mass is the absents of excessive fat and with maximum muscle which allows the body to operate efficiently.
If Muscle-Matrix Personal Training could be of further help, feel free to contact us at your earliest convenience for detailed consultation? Talk with you soon.
Hofstra University AAPTE Certified Levels I and II Personal Trainer/Consultant
Special Olympics Certified State and USA Games AthleticCoach/Consultant
Special Olympics USA National Games 2014
The SO USA National Game 2014 were spectacular particularly for the New York State Power Lifting Team made up of four out standing athletes, Ryan, Daniel, Tommy and Robert. They finished the national competition with 5 Gold Metals, 2 Silver Metals, 6 Ribbons and 17 Personal Best Lifts as a team. Go New York State Power Lifting Team your coach is very proud of your performance.
“MUSCLE-MATRIX” was there first hand for the Empire State Team to help bring the team to victory.
The Special Olympics NY State Games held at the University of Buffalo was the icing on the 2014 USA Game season cake. The Summer 2014 Special Olympics was held the USA Games in New Jersey. Thanks to all though family and fans who supported the athletes and teams from New York State. I was proud to be the coach of the New York Power Lifting Team 2014 USA National Game.
Ron Daniels Hofstra University AAPTE Level 1 and 2 Personal Trainer Special Olympics Athletic Power Lifting National Coach.
Remember we all can get into shape to achieve our life goals and milestones.
“Live Long and Prosper” by making it a habit to visit Muscle-Matrix.com every month to get the motivation to get off the couch and away from the computer/TV and become physically active in some way.
See you again soon in cyber space at Muscle-Matrix.com.;
APPTE Certified Level 1 and Level 2 Personal Trainer; Special Olympics Athletic Coach.