Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

Dance, Turtle, Dance

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Science's STKE  23 Jan 2007:
Vol. 2007, Issue 370, pp. tw32
DOI: 10.1126/stke.3702007tw32

The basic spinal network mechanisms underlying limb movements are still not fully understood. Investigating spinal cord preparations from adult turtles, Berg et al. describe how spinal networks operate during motor pattern generation. Balanced increases in synaptic excitation and inhibition operate in spinal motor neurons to produce rhythmic bursts of action potentials that are stochastic in nature. This activity contrasts strongly with the classical notion that antiphasic inhibition and excitation produces rhythmic activity in oscillatory spinal networks (see Kristan for commentary).

R. W. Berg, A. Alaburda, J. Hounsgaard, Balanced inhibition and excitation drive spike activity in spinal half-centers. Science 315, 390-393 (2007). [Abstract] [Full Text]

W. B. Kristan, A push-me pull-you neural design. Science 315, 339-340 (2007). [Summary] [Full Text]