Spatial Control of Reflexes, Posture and Movement in Normal Conditions and after Neurological Lesions

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Anatol G. Feldman, Mindy F. Levin

Control of reflexes is usually associated with central modulation of their sensitivity (gain) or phase-dependent inhibition and facilitation of their influences on motoneurons (reflex gating). Accumulated empirical findings show that the gain modulation and reflex gating are secondary, emergent properties of central control of spatial thresholds at which reflexes become functional. In this way, the system pre-determines, in a feedforward and task-specific way, where, in a spatial domain or a frame of reference, muscles are allowed to work without directly prescribing EMG activity and forces. This control strategy is illustrated by considering reflex adaptation to repeated muscle stretches in healthy subjects, a process associated with implicit learning and generalization. It has also been shown that spasticity, rigidity, weakness and other neurological motor deficits may have a common source – limitations in the range of spatial threshold control elicited by neural lesions.
DOI: 10.1515/hukin-2015-0191
Key words
motor control, rehabilitation, stretch reflex, spasticity, learning

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