Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fast And Slow: How The Spinal Cord Controls The Speed Of Movement

Date:
March 1, 2007
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
Using a state-of-the-art technique to map neurons in the spinal cord of a larval zebrafish, Cornell University scientists have found a surprising pattern of activity that regulates the speed of the fish's movement. The research may have long-term implications for treating injured human spinal cords and Parkinson's disease, where movements slow down and become erratic.

A still from a movie showing a close-up view of a group of nerve cells labeled with fluorescent dye in a live fish. The movie was made by focusing down through the spinal cord from the side of the fish. (Credit: Image courtesy of Cornell University)
Credit: Image courtesy of Cornell University

Using a state-of-the-art technique to map neurons in the spinal cord of a larval zebrafish, Cornell University scientists have found a surprising pattern of activity that regulates the speed of the fish's movement. The research may have long-term implications for treating injured human spinal cords and Parkinson's disease, where movements slow down and become erratic.

Related Articles


The study, "A Topographic Map of Recruitment in Spinal Cord," published in the March 1 issue of the journal Nature, maps how neurons in the bottom of the fish's spinal cord become active during slow movements, while cells further up the spinal cord activate as movements speed up.

By removing specific neurons in the lower spinal cord with laser beams, the researchers rendered the fish incapable of slow movements. By removing nerves further up the backbone, the fish had difficulty moving fast.

"No one had any idea that organization like this existed in a spinal cord," said Joseph Fetcho, a Cornell professor of neurobiology and behavior and an author of the study. "Now that we know the pattern, we can begin to ask how that changes in disease states."

David McLean, Cornell postdoctoral researcher in Fetcho's laboratory, was the first person to discover the pattern of neural activation and how it was associated with speed of movement. He is the lead author on the study.

The researchers worked with 4 millimeter-long larval zebrafish (Danio rerio) because they are transparent and researchers can see their cells. Fetcho and his colleagues injected the fishes' spinal cords with a fluorescent dye, which then lit up when calcium ions flooded in as the nerve cells activated. A confocal microscope with lasers allowed the researchers to image the cells at very high resolutions. Using this set up, they watched nerve cells light up as the animals moved at different speeds.

While no one knows how this pattern relates to other vertebrates, the research opens a door toward basic understanding of the architecture and function of nerves in spinal cords. With regard to regeneration of spinal cords following injury, for example, medical researchers need a template for a normal spinal cord in order to know if nerves are re-growing normally, Fetcho said.

In Parkinson's disease, researchers believe that a neurotransmitter released by brain cells may contribute to activating a system of nerves and muscles that allow for faster movement. They suspect that damage to these brain cells may disrupt the release of dopamine, further complicating free movement. Fetcho and his group are building a transgenic line of fish with those brain cells labeled so they may be targeted and removed with lasers.

The other co-authors are: Melina Hale, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago's Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy; Jing Yi Phan, a postdoctoral researcher in Hale's laboratory; and Shin-ichi Higashijima, a former postdoctoral researcher in Fetcho's laboratory. Hale is a former postdoctoral researcher in Fetcho's laboratory, Hale and Jing Yi conducted the work using lasers to remove nerve cells.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health in the United States and the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology, Sports and Culture of Japan.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "Fast And Slow: How The Spinal Cord Controls The Speed Of Movement." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070228170351.htm>.
Cornell University. (2007, March 1). Fast And Slow: How The Spinal Cord Controls The Speed Of Movement. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070228170351.htm
Cornell University. "Fast And Slow: How The Spinal Cord Controls The Speed Of Movement." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070228170351.htm (accessed January 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, January 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) A string of black bear attacks has Florida officials considering lifting the ban on hunting the animals to control their population. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Newsy (Jan. 23, 2015) Experts estimate Ebola has wiped out one-third of the world&apos;s gorillas and chimpanzees. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) Activists hope the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) will label killer whales endangered, allowing lawyers to sue a Miami aquarium to release an orca into the wild after 44 years. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
‘Healthy’ Foods That Surprisingly Pack on Pounds

‘Healthy’ Foods That Surprisingly Pack on Pounds

Buzz60 (Jan. 23, 2015) Some &apos;healthy&apos; foods are actually fattening. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) shines a light on the sneaky foods like nuts, seeds, granola, trail mix, avocados, guacamole, olive oil, peanut butter, fruit juices and salads that are good for you...but not so much for your waistline. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins