Rune Berg

Department of Neuroscience, KU

Title: “A new theory of the neural generation of movement.”

Abstract: It is known that rhythmic motor activity, such as breathing and walking, is generated in the spinal cord and medulla, but so far experiments have been incomplete in identifying a single key cellular mechanism behind generation of movements. Here, we propose a new mechanism, which is rooted in the network connectivity rather than cellular properties. Using a combination of experimental and theoretical approaches we show that slow rhythmic activity can arise in recurrently connected neural networks resulting in broad phase distributions across the network and with lognormally distributed firing rates, which is consistent with experimental data. These results suggest a new framework for understanding how core elements of movements are generated without an explicit separation of layers or modules and that does not critically depend on cellular features.