Motor primitives in vertebrates and invertebrates

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2005 Dec;15(6):660-6. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2005.10.011. Epub 2005 Nov 4.


In recent years different lines of evidence have led to the idea that motor actions and movements in both vertebrates and invertebrates are composed of elementary building blocks. The entire motor repertoire can be spanned by applying a well-defined set of operations and transformations to these primitives and by combining them in many different ways according to well-defined syntactic rules. Motor and movement primitives and modules might exist at the neural, dynamic and kinematic levels with complicated mapping among the elementary building blocks subserving these different levels of representation. Hence, while considerable progress has been made in recent years in unravelling the nature of these primitives, new experimental, computational and conceptual approaches are needed to further advance our understanding of motor compositionality.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior / physiology
  • Humans
  • Invertebrates / physiology*
  • Language
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscles / innervation
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Robotics
  • Vertebrates / physiology*