Navigation Links
Fast and slow -- How the spinal cord controls the speed of movement

Using a state-of-the-art technique to map neurons in the spinal cord of a larval zebrafish, Cornell University scientists have found a surprising pattern of activity that regulates the speed of the fish’s movement. The research may have long-term implications for treating injured human spinal cords and Parkinson’s disease, where movements slow down and become erratic.

The study, "A Topographic Map of Recruitment in Spinal Cord," published in the March 1 issue of the journal Nature, maps how neurons in the bottom of the fish’s spinal cord become active during slow movements, while cells further up the spinal cord activate as movements speed up.

By removing specific neurons in the lower spinal cord with laser beams, the researchers rendered the fish incapable of slow movements. By removing nerves further up the backbone, the fish had difficulty moving fast.

"No one had any idea that organization like this existed in a spinal cord," said Joseph Fetcho, a Cornell professor of neurobiology and behavior and an author of the study. "Now that we know the pattern, we can begin to ask how that changes in disease states."

David McLean, Cornell postdoctoral researcher in Fetcho’s laboratory, was the first person to discover the pattern of neural activation and how it was associated with speed of movement. He is the lead author on the study.

The researchers worked with 4 millimeter-long larval zebrafish (Danio rerio) because they are transparent and researchers can see their cells. Fetcho and his colleagues injected the fishes?spinal cords with a fluorescent dye, which then lit up when calcium ions flooded in as the nerve cells activated. A confocal microscope with lasers allowed the researchers to image the cells at very high resolutions. Using this set up, they watched nerve cells light up as the animals moved at different speeds.

While no one knows how this pattern relates to other vertebrates, the research opens a door toward basic understanding of the architecture and function of nerves in spinal cords. With regard to regeneration of spinal cords following injury, for example, medical researchers need a template for a normal spinal cord in order to know if nerves are re-growing normally, Fetcho said.

In Parkinson’s disease, researchers believe that a neurotransmitter released by brain cells may contribute to activating a system of nerves and muscles that allow for faster movement. They suspect that damage to these brain cells may disrupt the release of dopamine, further complicating free movement. Fetcho and his group are building a transgenic line of fish with those brain cells labeled so they may be targeted and removed with lasers.

Source:Cornell University News Service

Related biology news :

1. Stem cell treatment improves mobility after spinal cord injury
2. Combination therapy leads to partial recovery from spinal cord injury in rats
3. Purdue scientists may have found key to halting spinal cord damage
4. Researchers find molecule that inhibits regrowth of spinal nerve cells
5. Gradient guides nerve growth down spinal cord
6. One small step means giant leap for spinal cord research
7. New study identifies key gene in development of connections between brain and spinal cord
8. Protein fingerprint in spinal fluid could spot Alzheimers disease
9. Thinking with the spinal cord?
10. Elderly spinal cord injuries increase five-fold in 30 years, Jefferson neurosurgeons find
11. Cooperation is key—a new way of looking at MicroRNA and how it controls gene expression

Post Your Comments:

(Date:10/29/2015)... Oct. 29, 2015  Rubicon Genomics, Inc., today ... distribution of its DNA library preparation products, including ... new ThruPLEX Plasma-seq kit. ThruPLEX Plasma-seq has been ... of NGS libraries for liquid biopsies--the analysis of ... prognostic applications in cancer and other conditions. Eurofins ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... 27, 2015 Munich, Germany ... Mapping technology (ASGM) automatically maps data from mobile eye ... , so that they can be quantitatively analyzed ... Munich, Germany , October 28-29, 2015. SMI,s ... from mobile eye tracking videos created with SMI,s ...
(Date:10/23/2015)... DUBLIN , Oct. 23, 2015 Research ... of the "Global Voice Recognition Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... --> --> The global voice recognition ... during 2014-2019. --> ... 2015-2019, has been prepared based on an in-depth market ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... maintain healthy metabolism. But unless it is bound to proteins, copper is also ... Health (NIH), researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will conduct a systematic study ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015  Clintrax Global, Inc., a worldwide ... Carolina , today announced that the company has set a ... a 391% quarter on quarter growth posted for Q3 of 2014 ... and Mexico , with the establishment of ... December 2015. --> United Kingdom and ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... The Academy of Model ... Group (SIG), MultiGP, also known as Multirotor Grand Prix, to represent the First–Person View ... years. Many AMA members have embraced this type of racing and several new model ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Israel , Nov. 24, 2015  Tikcro Technologies Ltd. (OTCQB: TIKRF) ... on December 29, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. Israel ... Electra Tower, 98 Yigal Allon Street, 36 th Floor, ... of Eric Paneth and Izhak Tamir to the ... Rami Skaliter as external directors; , approval of an amendment to ...
Breaking Biology Technology: