My Little Grey Cells Guiding the Motor System

The topic of this week was the motor system and we had a lecture and an exercise session. The lecture discussed spinal control of movement as well as brain control of movement. We were somewhat familiar with the operation mechanism in skeletal muscles from a previous physiology course. Especially the sarcomere structure and how myosin pulls on the actin filaments to contract the muscle. It was interesting to hear how this is also dependent on calcium ions. It was a little bit confusing in the book that the intrafusal muscle fibers were drawn outside of the muscle, but it was good that it was explained in the lecture. However, it was interesting to learn how the nerves innervate the muscle and how the stretching of the muscle is observed and controlled. The concept of mirror neurons was interesting and especially that the action potentials are not fired if the human for example uses forceps instead of hands. Overall, the spinal control of movement was more familiar than brain control of movement already before, and it remained the same also after the lecture.

Exercise topic was also motor systems. The questions were again very applied but therefore also very interesting. The baseball question was especially interesting and we had not known or thought that the reaction for hitting the ball is actually not possible based on normal reaction times and decision making. It is obvious that training and learning improves the decision making ability and reaction time, but it was totally new for us that training and learning can alter neural pathways. The pathway for the physical movement based on visual input is different or shortened and is more based on reflex than actual decision making in the brain and commands based on that.

Now all the topics for the course have been covered in the lectures which causes mixed feelings. We have learned a massive amount of new things about the human brain, but we also feel that many things are still unclear. Good luck for us for the exam…

Posted by Maaria Malkamäki

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