Circuits controlling vertebrate locomotion: moving in a new direction

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2009 Jul;10(7):507-18. doi: 10.1038/nrn2608.


Neurobiologists have long sought to understand how circuits in the nervous system are organized to generate the precise neural outputs that underlie particular behaviours. The motor circuits in the spinal cord that control locomotion, commonly referred to as central pattern generator networks, provide an experimentally tractable model system for investigating how moderately complex ensembles of neurons generate select motor behaviours. The advent of novel molecular and genetic techniques coupled with recent advances in our knowledge of spinal cord development means that a comprehensive understanding of how the motor circuitry is organized and operates may be within our grasp.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Interneurons / metabolism
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / cytology
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Periodicity
  • Spinal Cord* / cytology
  • Spinal Cord* / physiology
  • Swimming