Following damage to the motor system (e.g., after stroke or spinal cord injury), recovery of upper limb function exploits the multiple pathways which allow motor commands to be sent to the spinal cord. Corticospinal fibers originate from premotor as well as primary motor cortex. While some corticospinal fibers make direct monosynaptic connections to motoneurons, there are also many connections to interneurons which allow control of motoneurons indirectly. Such interneurons may be placed within the cervical enlargement, or more rostrally (propriospinal interneurons). In addition, connections from cortex to the reticular formation in the brainstem allow motor commands to be sent over the reticulospinal tract to these spinal centers. In this review, we consider the relative roles of these different routes for the control of hand function, both in healthy primates and after recovery from lesion.
Keywords: corticospinal; hand; motor cortex; primate; propriospinal; pyramidal tract; reticulospinal.
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