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Manipulation of a specific neural circuit buried in complicated brain networks in primates
Date:6/17/2012

The collaborative research team led by Professor Tadashi ISA, Project Assistant Professor Masaharu KINOSHITA from The National Institute for Physiological Sciences, The National Institutes of Natural Sciences and Fukushima Medical University and Kyoto University, developed "the double viral vector transfection technique" which can deliver genes to a specific neural circuit by combining two new kinds of gene transfer vectors. With this method, they found that "indirect pathways", which were suspected to have been left behind when the direct connection from the brain to motor neurons (which control muscles) was established in the course of evolution, actually plays an important role in the highly developed dexterous hand movements. This study was supported by the Strategic Research Program for Brain Sciences by the MEXT of Japan. This research result will be published in Nature (London) (June 17th, advance online publication).

It is said that the higher primates including human beings accomplished explosive evolution by having acquired the ability to move hands skillfully. It has been thought that this ability to move individual fingers is a result of the evolution of the direct connection from the cerebrocortical motor area to motor neurons of the spinal cord which control the muscles. On the other hand, in lower animals with clumsy hands, such as cats or rats, the cortical motor area is connected to the motor neurons, only through interneurons of the spinal cord. Such "indirect pathway"remains in us, primates, without us fully understanding its functions. Is this "phylogenetically old circuit" still in operation? Or maybe suppressed since it is obstructive? The conclusion was not attached to this argument.

The collaborative research team led by Professor Tadashi ISA, Project Assistant Professor Masaharu KINOSHITA from The National Institute for Physiological Sciences, The National Institutes of Natural Sciences and Fukushima Medical Uni
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Contact: Tadashi Isa
tisa@nips.ac.jp
81-564-557-761
National Institute for Physiological Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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