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Chapter 5

Jingying T.A.
Department of physiology
 review
 motor cortex
 descending tracts (brain stem, cerebellum and
basal ganglia)
 motor neuron:
α-motor neuron:
γ-motor neuron:

 motor unit: a motor neuron plus the muscle cells it

innervates constitutes an important functional unit , called a
motor unit.


Cord functions:
 Muscle stretch reflex (based on muscle spindle)
 Golgi tendon reflex
 Flexor reflex and the withdrawal reflexes
 Crossed extensor reflex
 Reflexes of posture and locomotion
 Scratch reflex
 Autonomic reflexes in the spinal cord
motor cortex
anterior to the central cortical sulcus;
occupying about the 1/3 of the frontal lobes;
 primary motor cortex: in the first convolution; excitement of
neurons excite a pattern of muscles;

premotor area: cause much more
complex pattern of movement;
develop “motor image”.

supplementary motor area:
cause bilateral muscle
contraction; provide background
for the finer motor.
primary motor cortex
motor cortex

distribution features of somatic movement:

 contra lateral control (with bilateral control for facial

 upward down;

 topographical organization;

area proportionally to the dexterousness.

descending tracts
•pyramidal tract
(corticospinal tract ):
from cortex to the spinal
cord directly;

* extrapyramidal tracts:
indirectly through basal
ganglia, cerebellum, and
nuclei in brain stem.
descending tracts

pyramidal tract
descending tracts
motor areas in the brain stem:

vestibular nuclei: vestibulospinal tracts

red nuclei: rubrospinal tracts
 reticular formation: reciculospinal tracts
descending tracts
 functions:
pyramidal tracts: synapse directly with motor neurons.
rubrospinal tracts: distribute to spinal motor neurons
supplying distal limb muscles.
both in fine motor control

vestibulospinal tracts:
reticulospinal tracts:

in the control of balance and locomotion

descending tracts
the cerebellum:
receives inputs from a wide variety of sources including:
1 the vestibular apparatus;
2 peripheral sensory receptors, especially muscle spindles
and proprioceptors in joints;
3 the visual and auditory system;
4 the corticospinal pathway.

and sends outputs to motor cortex (via the thalamus)

to brain stem motor areas.

playing a significant role in motor control.

descending tracts
the basal ganglia:
receives input from :

wide areas of cortex, including motor cortex;
 the thalamus, a relay station for sensory pathways;

 the substantia nigra in the midbrain.

sends output to:

motor cortex via the thalamus

suggesting: have influence on the corticospinal output,

especially in the initiation of movement and in controlling
body posture to allow for fine movements.
descending tracts

summary of the descending tracts