Proprioception from a spinocerebellar perspective

Physiol Rev. 2001 Apr;81(2):539-68. doi: 10.1152/physrev.2001.81.2.539.


This review explores how proprioceptive sensory information is organized at spinal cord levels as it relates to a sense of body position and movement. The topic is considered in an historical context and develops a different framework that may be more in tune with current views of sensorimotor processing in other central nervous system structures. The dorsal spinocerebellar tract (DSCT) system is considered in detail as a model system that may be considered as an end point for the processing of proprioceptive sensory information in the spinal cord. An analysis of this system examines sensory processing at the lowest levels of synaptic connectivity with central neurons in the nervous system. The analysis leads to a framework for proprioception that involves a highly flexible network organization based in some way on whole limb kinematics. The functional organization underlying this framework originates with the biomechanical linkages in the limb that establish functional relationships among the limb segments. Afferent information from limb receptors is processed further through a distributed neural network in the spinal cord. The result is a global representation of hindlimb parameters rather than a muscle-by-muscle or joint-by-joint representation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Feedback
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology