Ready, set, action: cortical control of movement

Published on May 18, 2010 Updated on April 30, 2021   50 min

A selection of talks on Neurology

0:00
Hello, my name is Richard Ivry and I'm a professor at the University of California. In today's lecture, we are going to explore how the brain controls movement. When we consider our amazing mental capabilities, we sometimes ignore what are the most fundamental aspects of cognition. The ability to plan and produce skilled movement. We talk of muscle memory suggesting that the skill of the basketball superstar or the concert virtuoso is a function of the body rather than the brain. Yet one could argue that the ability to produce complex and purposeful movement is the central driving force of brain evolution. Perception, memory, problem-solving, even language are designed to improve our ability to act, our precise visual system allows us to manipulate tools. Our vast memory stores allow us to recognize which actions are appropriate for a given context. And language language gives us a way to talk about our intentions or interpret the actions of others.
1:03
Let me begin by giving you an overview of today's lecture. There are four parts to it. First, we're going to describe the anatomy of the motor system, talking about the different projections down to the spinal cord that actually allow the muscles to be activated by events within the central nervous system. Following this, I'm going to be talking about some of the movement disorders. That have been observed when people have either strokes or tumors that affect the cerebral cortex. We'll then turn to review of what I call the functional architecture of the motor system. Here we'll be looking at the different regions of the cerebral cortex that are involved in motor control, asking how they might make differential contributions to the control of skilled movements. As part of this will also be looking at the activity of individual neurons within the motor system and how we can make sense of how the activity of these individual neurons produces complex actions. Finally, we're going to be describing how scientists are taking that knowledge and translating it into remarkable new therapies that can assist individuals who have lost the capacity to produce movement either because of neural injury or because of muscular degeneration.
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Ready, set, action: cortical control of movement

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