Inhibition and Facilitation of the Spinal Locomotor Central Pattern Generator and Reflex Circuits by Somatosensory Feedback From the Lumbar and Perineal Regions After Spinal Cord Injury

Front Neurosci. 2021 Jul 28:15:720542. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2021.720542. eCollection 2021.


Somatosensory feedback from peripheral receptors dynamically interacts with networks located in the spinal cord and brain to control mammalian locomotion. Although somatosensory feedback from the limbs plays a major role in regulating locomotor output, those from other regions, such as lumbar and perineal areas also shape locomotor activity. In mammals with a complete spinal cord injury, inputs from the lumbar region powerfully inhibit hindlimb locomotion, while those from the perineal region facilitate it. Our recent work in cats with a complete spinal cord injury shows that they also have opposite effects on cutaneous reflexes from the foot. Lumbar inputs increase the gain of reflexes while those from the perineal region decrease it. The purpose of this review is to discuss how somatosensory feedback from the lumbar and perineal regions modulate the spinal locomotor central pattern generator and reflex circuits after spinal cord injury and the possible mechanisms involved. We also discuss how spinal cord injury can lead to a loss of functional specificity through the abnormal activation of functions by somatosensory feedback, such as the concurrent activation of locomotion and micturition. Lastly, we discuss the potential functions of somatosensory feedback from the lumbar and perineal regions and their potential for promoting motor recovery after spinal cord injury.

Keywords: cutaneous; locomotion; lumbar; micturition; perineal; somatosensory feedback; spinal cord injury; spinal reflexes.

Publication types

  • Review