Current approaches and future directions to understanding control of head movement

Prog Brain Res. 2004;143:369-81. doi: 10.1016/s0079-6123(03)43035-5.


This chapter reviews four key issues that must be addressed to advance our knowledge of control of head movement by the central nervous system (CNS). (1) Researchers must consider how the CNS utilizes the multiple muscle patterns that can produce the same head movement in carrying out tasks in an optimal way. (2) More attention must be paid to the dynamics of neck muscle activation that are required to implement head movements and show they are produced by CNS circuits. (3) Research is required to determine how the multiple pathways that impinge upon neck motor centers are utilized in a variety of tasks including eye-head gaze shifts, smooth head tracking, head stabilization and manipulating objects with the head. These pathways include corticospinal, vestibulospinal, reticulospinal (three subdivisions), fastigiospinal, tectospinal and interstitiospinal tracts. (4) Further analysis is needed to understand how vestibular signals are modulated during each of the above-mentioned tasks. This ambitious agenda is justified by the fact that the head-neck motor system is an ideal model for understanding issues of complex motor control.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone and Bones / physiology
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology
  • Head / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Neck / innervation
  • Neck / physiology
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena
  • Physiology / trends
  • Volition