Motor command for precision grip in the macaque monkey can be mediated by spinal interneurons

J Neurophysiol. 2011 Jul;106(1):122-6. doi: 10.1152/jn.00089.2011. Epub 2011 Apr 20.


In motor control, the general view is still that spinal interneurons mainly contribute to reflexes and automatic movements. The question raised here is whether spinal interneurons can mediate the cortical command for independent finger movements, like a precision grip between the thumb and index finger in the macaque monkey, or if this function depends exclusively on a direct corticomotoneuronal pathway. This study is a followup of a previous report (Sasaki et al. J Neurophysiol 92: 3142-3147, 2004) in which we trained macaque monkeys to pick a small piece of sweet potato from a cylinder by a precision grip between the index finger and thumb. We have now isolated one spinal interneuronal system, the C3-C4 propriospinal interneurons with projection to hand and arm motoneurons. In the previous study, the lateral corticospinal tract (CST) was interrupted in C4/C5 (input intact to the C3-C4 propriospinal interneurons), and in this study, the CST was interrupted in C2 (input abolished). The precision grip could be performed within the first 15 days after a CST lesion in C4/C5 but not in C2. We conclude that C3-C4 propriospinal interneurons also can carry the command for precision grip.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arm / physiology
  • Female
  • Fingers / innervation*
  • Fingers / physiology*
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Macaca / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Pyramidal Tracts / physiology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*