Feed-Forwardness of Spinal Networks in Posture and Locomotion

Yury Gerasimenko, Dimitry Sayenko, Parag Gad, Chao Tuan Liu, Niranjala J.K. Tillakaratne, Roland R. Roy, Inessa Kozlovskaya, V. Reggie Edgerton

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    31 Scopus citations


    We present a new perspective on the concept of feed-forward compared to feedback mechanisms for motor control. We propose that conceptually all sensory information in real time provided to the brain and spinal cord can be viewed as a feed-forward phenomenon. We also propose that the spinal cord continually adapts to a broad array of ongoing sensory information that is used to adjust the probability of making timely and predictable decisions of selected networks that will execute a given response. One interpretation of the term feedback historically entails responses with short delays. We propose that feed-forward mechanisms, however, range in timeframes of milliseconds to an evolutionary perspective, that is, "evolutionary learning." Continuously adapting events enable a high level of automaticity within the sensorimotor networks that mediate "planned" motor tasks. We emphasize that either a very small or a very large proportion of motor responses can be under some level of conscious vs automatic control. Furthermore, we make a case that a major component of automaticity of the neural control of movement in vertebrates is located within spinal cord networks. Even without brain input, the spinal cord routinely uses feed-forward processing of sensory information, particularly proprioceptive and cutaneous, to continuously make fundamental decisions that define motor responses. In effect, these spinal networks may be largely responsible for executing coordinated sensorimotor tasks, even those under normal "conscious" control.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)441-453
    Number of pages13
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


    • central pattern generation
    • feed-forward control
    • spinal automaticity
    • spinal cord injury
    • spinal learning

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Neuroscience(all)
    • Clinical Neurology


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