Motor Primitives In the Spinal Cord as a Basis For Motor Learning and Action

S. Giszter

Recent work in frog and rat spinal cord has revealed the spinal interneuron systems can be thought of as comprising biomechanical 'primitives'. These primitives could be similar to primitives of computer science in that complex programs of behavior repertoires could be built from them. The biological primitives could thus form a bootstrap or basis set for learned motor behaviors. The concept of primitives used here is closely allied to other ideas in neurophysiology, notably the compounding of reflexes suggested by Sherrington, the building blocks of Getting, and the flexor reflex afferent ideas of Lundberg, Jankowska and colleagues.

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