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Neuronal circuits in the nervous system are the basis of all behaviours. A major challenge to neuroscientist is to understand in which neuronal circuits different behaviours are coded and how such circuits operate in the complex mammalian nervous system. For locomotor behaviours, like walking, motor circuits in the spinal cord itself generate the actual timing and coordination of the rhythmic muscle activity. These circuits are at the core of generating locomotion and understanding the operational organization of these circuits is key to understand how the behaviour is generated. In this talk, I will discuss findings from our lab that have revealed the role of designated populations of neurons that serve key functions in the spinal locomotor network including excitatory and inhibitory interneuron networks with distinct molecular identity that are engaged in generating the rhythm- or pattern of locomotor movements. I will also address how locomotor networks are selected to secure appropriate coordination of movements at different speeds of locomotion and discuss how command signals from the brain may initiate the behaviour. Our experiments have provided functional insights to the principal mode of operation of large-scale mammalian motor circuits and shown how network operation may be linked to specific behavioural motor outcomes.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Gero Miesenboeck.