Central pattern generators (CPGs) are neural networks in the spinal cord that generate the rhythmic patterns observed in many complex movements like chewing, breathing and walking. Within CPGs excitatory glutamatergic neurons have been implicated in generating these rhythmic patterns, and glutamatergic neurons in the hindbrain region that extend into the spinal cord are thought to be important in initiating locomotion. However, direct evidence of the involvement of these neurons in such activities has been hard to obtain.
In a Nature Neuroscience paper, Hägglund et al. present evidence using a transgenic mouse model that these excitatory neurons are indeed involved in rhythmic pattern generation and initiating locomotion. Continue reading “Shining Light on the Walking Pathway”