Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Tracking the neural highways in the brain required for movement

08 October 2019

Deep Brain Signals

Deep inside the vertebrate brain are the thalamus and basal ganglia, two clusters of neurons (called nuclei) controlling the electrical circuits in our brain that dictate when and how we move our limbs. When either are disrupted, for example in Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, we lose our ability to make appropriate and controlled movements. Scientists investigated precisely how neural information needed to make movements are organised in these areas, focusing on the thalamus’ parafascicular nucleus (PF). They tracked signals and connections originating from neurons in the inner (blue), middle (purple) and outer (yellow) PF as they travelled through the mouse brain and found that each region carries distinct information required for motor action to different parts of the brain. Understanding this critical organisation could help ensure that deep brain stimulation used to treat movement disorders like Parkinson’s is targeting the best area of the brain for each patient.

Written by Gaëlle Coullon

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