Sensory and Motor Systems

Author: Leonardo Molano Ramirez | Email: leomol5164@gmail.com

Leonardo Molano Ramirez , Joaquin Alejo Quintana , Alvaro Concha , Maria Soledad Esposito , Damian Hernandez

1° Medical Physiscs Deparment/ Atomic Center of Bariloche

Mammals have the ability to generate an infinite variety of motor behaviors, from simple actions such as walking to highly complex movements like object manipulation or speech. Some motor patterns are present at birth while new motor skills can be acquired through training and experience. Communication among numerous brain areas is needed to ensure accurate acquisition and execution of motor programs. However, the classical model for motor learning proposes that only a subset of structures along the motor command pathway within forebrain and cerebellum are subjected to activity-dependent adjustments and become reorganized during acquisition of a new skill. In contrast, downstream motor regions located in the brainstem are considered to be simple executive centers for stereotyped motor behaviors. In this study, we challenged this model by testing the role of a midbrain region classically described as a locomotor center in learning the accelerating rotarod task. In this task, mice learn new motor strategies to stay in a rod that is rotating at increasing speed. By using a combination of strategies ranging from local drug administration, molecular biology, cutting-edge viral and mouse genetic tools, and unsupervised machine learning techniques to classify animal’s behavior, we have found that the midbrain locomotor center is necessary to consolidate this new skill.